EL DORADO COUNTY FIRE personnel respond to the Union Mine High School gymnasium after smoke was reported during a power outage at a basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 17. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins


Fire crews deal with UMHS evac, 7-acre fire

By From page A8 | December 20, 2013

A power outage forced the early end of a game amidst a heating and air conditioning unit malfunctioning and smoking at Union Mine High School about 7:40 p.m. Tuesday.

Diamond Springs Fire Chief Robert Combs noted that PG&E reported problems with power in the area causing intermittent outages.

“They smelled smoke in the building,” he said, referring to the gym, which caused the fire alarm to go off. “The HVAC unit was the culprit.”

A half-hour later, the school lost all power, said Tony DeVille, Union Mine principal. “The first outage was limited and impacted part of campus. From what I learned, the limited outage created a situation where limited power was going to our HVAC unit in the gym which caused the motor to malfunction (thus the smell),” he wrote in an e-mail to the Mountain Democrat.

The Union Mine-Amador varsity girls basketball game was cut short as the gym was evacuated. Diamond Springs Fire was joined by El Dorado County Fire and Cal Fire, as well as the Sheriff’s Office in responding to the incident.

Fire crews were also kept busy the previous Saturday, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m. with a 7 acre fire near Kathy Lane in Placerville.

It began as a call to investigate smoke, said County Fire Division Chief Mike Pott, and was found to be a 30-foot-by-30-foot spot fire on arrival. It was, however, encroaching on heavy fuels. Despite having no wind, the fire gained size with a “moderate rate of spread.”

Additional engines and hand crews from Cal Fire were requested as the fire grew to 7.1 acres in size, Pott said. A medical aid was also called on the scene for a man with chest pains, but Pott was unsure of whether it was connected.

“The Kathy Fire was started by an ATV,” Cal Fire’s Teri Mizuhara said. “There was chafe (bits of weeds) that caught fire and spread to the wildland. The winds kicked up and the fire moved around the owners’ property.  The fire burnt on wildland, nothing was damaged. The snow had melted the day before. The fuels are that dry right now.”

Units from Cal Fire, El Dorado County Fire, Rescue Fire, Diamond Springs fire and El Dorado Hills Fire responded to the incident.



Cole Mayer

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