Three fires in the past week have kept local fire departments on their toes as residents begin to light their fireplaces and heaters up.
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On Oct. 27, a call came in to dispatch of a fire near Broadway and Wiltse in Placerville around 9:33 a.m., El Dorado County Fire Division Chief Mike Pott said.
A deputy arrived first, having seen the smoke from the highway. When fire personnel arrived, there was “heavy smoke” from the residence at 3039 Wiltse Road. The back bedroom caught fire and vented out through windows, Pott said. This allowed the fire to spread to a detached garage with an apartment over it. The apartment was quickly taken care of, and attention was focused back to the initial residence. It was contained by 10:44 a.m.
Though the official cause is still under investigation, Pott noted the owners of the residence did not live there. Instead, it appeared there were squatters with “evidence of people living there,” Pott said. Two men, one in his 20s and one in his 50s, were seen walking on Orchard Lane behind the structure, away from the fire. Though Placerville Police searched for the men, they were not found.
Cal Fire, El Dorado County Fire, Diamond Springs Fire and Cameron Park Fire responded to the incident.
Another fire flared the night of Oct. 29 at a mobile home at 4860 Pony Express Trail in Camino. The single-wide trailer, in space No. 28, was reported as being on fire at 8:27 p.m. Four minutes later, the first fire engine arrived, Pott said.
When it arrived, the home was already fully involved. Fire personnel worried about exposure to neighboring trailers, “but were able to keep it confined to the initial mobile home,” Pott said.
He noted the occupant came home from a meeting and noticed smoke coming out the window. When he opened the front door, there were flames in the kitchen/living room area.
“Crews got it quick but it was a total loss,” Pott said. The man, who lives with his girlfriend, both in their 20s, were uninjured, Pott said. But, despite resuscitation attempts, the pair’s 3-month-old chihuahua died. The pair moved into the mobile home earlier in the month, Pott said.
The cause of the fire was found to be wood stacked too closely to a wood-burning stove used to stave off the cold, Pott said. Instead of being 30 inches from the stove, the wood was between 4 and 6 inches away. It was the first fire of the season, as well, and the resident noted that there was little smoke coming from the chimney, a sign the chimney was likely blocked and in need of cleaning.
Officially fully contained at 9:02 p.m., County Fire, Diamond Springs Fire and Cal Fire responded to the incident.
A free-standing propane heater caused a fire Halloween morning at 5801 Old French Town Road in Shingle Springs. A detached garage, converted into an apartment, caught on fire, Pott said. The homeowner opened a door, saw fire in the building and quickly called to report it as it grew.
A Cal Fire engine was first to arrive, finding the building “well-involved” with flames coming out windows and doors. By 7:31 a.m., not long after the incident was reported, the fire was contained.
Though the cause was linked to the propane heater, exactly how the fire started was unknown and still under investigation. The homeowner noted a “pop,” but Pott was not sure what it could have been.
The homeowner informed fire personnel that one of the rooms in the main building was an ammunition reloading room, worrying crews about gunpowder and ammunition potentially going off, but the fire took “a few minutes to knock down” and the area cooled to where personnel were not worried, Pott said.
Cal Fire, County Fire, Cameron Park Fire and Rescue Fire all responded. Though it was in Diamond Springs Fire’s district, they were already out on another call, Pott said.
With colder weather looming, Pott said residents need to ensure chimneys have been sufficiently cleaned or they could pose a fire hazard. Keep kindling, including newspaper and wood, at least 30 inches away from stoves and fireplaces. Wet wood, brought in from outside, should also stay away from flames. Fires have started in the past, Pott said, after residents brought wood in to dry near a fire and the wood became too dry. The wood would then also catch on fire after the resident forgot about it.
Contact Cole Mayer at 530-344-5068 or [email protected] Follow @CMayerMtDemo.