Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Burn piles causing fires

From page A7 | November 20, 2013 |

Fires wracked El Dorado County on Nov. 8, mostly from burn piles that became uncontrolled.

The first fire started at 4:03 a.m. at 1263 Garnet Court in Pollock Pines, said County Fire Division Chief Mike Pott. A burn pile caused a 1/4-acre fire, Pott said, and burned up to a deck.

“County Fire and Cal Fire responded to the fire and the forward progress of the fire was stopped within eight minutes of Engine 17′s arrival,” he said.

At 12:29 p.m. at 1307 Ridgewood Dr. in Rescue, a small fire started from hot coals being left outside, Rescue Fire Department Chief Tom Keating said. It was a “small vegetation fire — 100 feet by 100 feet,” he said. There was no damage to any buildings.

At 12:07 p.m., a burn pile at 6771 Olympic Dr. in the Garden Park subdivision of Garden Valley became out of control, Garden Valley Fire Chief Bill Dekker said.

GVFD received a call at Station 51 from a male who had lost control of his burn. A fire chief, water tender and engine were dispatched, along with a Cal Fire unit.

The chief arrived first, noting the fire was burning about 1/4 or 1/2 of an acre of medium-to-heavy grassy fuel. Requests were made for units from Cal Fire, El Dorado County Fire, Georgetown and Rescue.

“The fire behavior rapidly accelerated when it burned into the hillside between Olympus Drive and McKinley Drive,” Dekker said, and priority went to saving the buildings on top of McKinley Drive. Air support was requested to that end. Two air tankers, a helicopter and air attack responded. Command was passed to Cal Fire due to the severity of the burn.

Five structures were threatened; fire came within 15 feet of one, Dekker said. In the end, though, the fire was contained to 8.1 acres of wildland. One small outbuilding was lost.

Garden Valley, Georgetown, Rescue, County Fire, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, state Fire Air and Amador-El Dorado and Placer Cal Fire units responded to the fire.

At 12:41 p.m., a fire on Diamante Robles Court in Diamond Springs was reported, Cal Fire’s Teri Mizuhara said. Diamond Springs Fire Chief Rob Combs noted that the fire started in wild land behind two homes, but the only structure damage was to a fence. The fire ended up being between 1/4 and 1/2 of an acre, Combs said.

Cal Fire, County Fire and Diamond Springs fire responded.

“People need to be reminded that burn permits are still required,” Pott said. “A majority of the vegetation fires this last week were as a result of people not following the requirements of their burn permit and their burn piles escaped. People are not creating the 10 foot down to mineral soil clearance around their 4 feet by 4 feet burn pile. They are also leaving their burn pile unattended. The burn pile needs to be dead out if they are finished burning for the day. They also need to keep in mind that if their burn pile escapes their control they could be held criminally or civilly liable.”

Conditions are “still very dry so I would caution against any debris burning, even on permissive burn days, until we get some rain,” Keating said.

Mizuhara also noted that a 10-foot clearance is needed for burn piles. Because of lift of the burn ban, she said Cal Fire is responding “almost daily to a handful of fires.” She noted there may be hundreds of county residents burning correctly, but the one or two that aren’t could cause burn piles to become out of control.

With five or six escapes each day from burn piles, Combs noted that residents need to do their due diligence when it comes to burn piles. Have a water source available to put the fire out and burn during the permitted hours — the evening is best due to higher humidity.





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