Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Burn piles causing fires

From page A7 | November 20, 2013 | 16 Comments

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.


Discussion | 16 comments

  • robertdnollNovember 19, 2013 - 1:59 pm

    there should be no burn days until we get a good soaking

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  • Kristy CrowderNovember 20, 2013 - 10:19 am

    robertdnoll: You are so right. Plus, having a burn permit does not mean the permit owner has any common sense. Perhaps the burn restrictions should be held off until the first good soaking of the year, every year, such as the rain we are having today.

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  • robertdnollNovember 20, 2013 - 10:33 am

    Kristy,you're correct

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  • Fran J.November 20, 2013 - 10:27 am

    No residential burn would be even better. When you burn, you and your neighbors literally breathe, and, if you garden, eat the residue on plants and soil of whatever toxins are in the smoke. (See Air Quality Management El Dorado County.) This is saying nothing of the disgusting smell and increased problems for asthma and other respiratory health issues. Our area is littered with propane tanks -- a chain reaction waiting to happen from an uncontrolled burn! For a minimal charge services are offered such as yard waste barrels and chipping. We already pay an extra "fee" because we live in a high fire danger area. How can allowing the number one cause of fires in the county (residential burning) make sense??

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  • AprilNovember 20, 2013 - 11:36 am

    Fran J., you are so right, and while we're at it maybe we should require that the residents of EDC not trim trees or clean up leaves, as is the nature of Agenda 21's rewilding policy.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 20, 2013 - 11:28 am

    Fran J. ...without slash and burn some of the native seeds will not propagate. No burning would kill off some of the evergreens and wild flowers.

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  • Little RickyNovember 20, 2013 - 11:51 am

    Flatlanders need to learn how to burn proper..

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  • Charlie BrownNovember 20, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    Some people just shouldn't be allowed to play with matches period!

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  • ScorchedNovember 20, 2013 - 1:36 pm

    Has anyone seen Ray?

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  • cookie65November 21, 2013 - 9:07 am

    I can remember a time before common sense was a thing of the past when people possessed enough wits to burn their annual piles of refuse and rubbish without burning down the neighborhood. Come to think of it they could also cross the street without a signal indicating it was their turn. But alas we didn't need "caution wet floor" printed on mop buckets in three languages either. So much for the theory that intellect and problem solving skills are increasing. My memory stretches back to before all the smart people moved here to teach all us hicks how to live.

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  • R.j. CarterNovember 21, 2013 - 9:25 am

    It wasn't that long ago they outlawed burn barrels in El Dorado Co....Now-a-days without burn barrels it seems there's more fires getting out of control...I always thought burn barrels were a lot more safe, easy and efficient, than scraping everything into a 4X4 pile and setting it on fire, but who knows?...

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 21, 2013 - 9:44 am

    RJ...I thought the same thing. I had to have lessons on how to burn. My grandfather, and my grandmother's best friend worked a while with me. It is a huge responsibility. It was very different for me...coming from a place we did not burn in. My daughter as a teenager worked with forestry at the same is how we learned that different seeds up here need the slash and burn to survive. I was amazed how much quicker a fresh branch went up in a rain than a dry one (because of the sap.)...just things I never thought about. People are in a rush at times to burn the wet stuff--that burn gives me a headache. But if people burn responsibilly...its fast...doesnt leave a smoldering smell...and its gone. My grandmother told me to mix the rest into compost piles...which she used on her flowers. They were big on tilling the soil as well. The people who complain--I find have not learned that the forest uses everything. and that even the indians understood that California is a slash and burn place. Some of the native plants will even ignite to help. Manzanita being one--it can be helpful in making your burn go burns hot. (according to my grandfather....but he said dont use too much in a wood stove--just use pieces to start your fire up --like match sticks...using too much can be too hot for the flue and the stove.) It is so much harder learning to live with nature than the concret of a city...but because of the hard work--it becomes part of you.

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  • concernedNovember 21, 2013 - 2:07 pm

    Wow, today 11/21/2013 is a burn day. With 40-60 mph winds forecasted for today, you would think that would not be the case. Our neighbor is actually burning today. Unbelievable

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  • Cathy LawrenceNovember 21, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    Exactly Concerned! I just called and Yes!, A burn day! Unbelievable!

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 21, 2013 - 3:41 pm

    This is where my grandfather would say to use your instincts--if the wind is blowing too much...go inside by the fire and read a book--instead of burning. He felt many times that someone was using a spinner to decide "yes" or "no." on burning...and not using the sense God gave them.

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  • cookie65November 21, 2013 - 6:15 pm

    Fran, according to those who invent a government agency for every conceivable human event there is no God to give them any sense. Which is why their voters need to be protected from themselves with never ending government. Without a signal to tell them when it is safe to cross the street, how would they know? Which does explain those who vote for them.

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