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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Water Tenders assist firefight

Gridley duck lodge destroyed by fire

GRIDLEY — The main building at a family-owned ranch west of Gridley, used primarily for duck hunting, was destroyed by fire Wednesday.

Owner Louis Ratto said the building, a former duck hunting lodge built in the 1920s, was a two-story, wood-framed structure of about 5,500 square feet.

It was reportedly empty when a caretaker for the property called in the fire at 11:46 a.m.

Three engine companies from the Gridley Fire Department and Cal Fire-Butte County stations in Oroville battled the flames for more than an hour.

Battalion Chief Russ Fowler said it took about 15 minutes for the first engine company to reach the remote location, off West Liberty Road on the northern edge of the Gray Lodge State Wildlife Area.

Fowler said the building was engulfed when the first engine arrived. "The roof had already collapsed, and the walls caved in soon after that," he said.

Fowler said a northwest wind blowing at up to 15 mph helped fan flames, and blew around embers that threatened as many as 10 other smaller structures on the property.

Three outbuildings partially burned, but firefighters were able to keep damage to a minimum. One, just feet from the old lodge, caught fire from radiated heat. Fire in the two others was caused by flying embers, Fowler said.

Fire inspector Todd Price said Ratto was relieved that firefighters also saved a large barn containing several four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Wednesday afternoon, Price said he had placed the loss to the structures at $300,000. "The lodge was fully furnished, and contained a lot of mementos you really can't put a price on," he said.

The structure was a second home for the Rattos, who live most of the year in Sonoma County.

The cause of the blaze remained under investigation Wednesday night. Price said he had ruled out any intentional cause and was concentrating on wiring and heaters in the building.

Fowler said the building appeared to be supplied by natural gas, but several propane tanks were also found inside.

With no fire hydrants on the property, Fowler said crews were initially forced to pump water out of an irrigation canal to supply fire hoses. He said three water tenders, two of them from volunteer companies, later arrived.

Power lines that had fallen away from the building, and may have been energized, posed an extra challenge for fire crews, Fowler said.

No one was hurt, and a home occupied by a caretaker for the property was untouched.

A family staying overnight in a cabin on the property was driven out by heavy smoke. Black plumes of smoke could be seen from as far away as Chico and Yuba City.

Ratto said the property, which he and his father, Jim Ratto, bought about six years ago, is insured.

Source: Article

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fire that destroyed million dollar Lutz mansion caused by barbeque grill

Last Update: 12/11 1:23 pm
LUTZ -- A two-alarm fire destroyed a mansion in Lutz Monday night. The blaze began while the owner was cooking on a barbeque grill. He said he became distracted by a phone call and left the built-in grill unattended in a covered patio.

The 7,500 square foot home on Lake Charles Circle is a total loss.

Investigators say there were no hydrants near the house, so they were forced to use water tenders to fight the flames. By the time the tenders arrived, the house was fully engulfed.

Firefighters are let the flames burn out since there was nothing salvageable inside the home.

No one was hurt.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Wind-driven fire destroys house, ignites trees > General News > Stories > Evergreen >

Wind-driven fire destroys house, ignites trees
Only a few minutes after ignition, the fire already had swept through the home in Alice.
Only a few minutes after ignition, the fire already had swept through the home in Alice.
Provided by: Brad Keller

Contributed by: Einar Jensen on 12/6/2007

High winds gusting at hurricane strength strafed the upper elevations of Clear Creek County, Colorado, all day December 3, 2007. One of those gusts is blamed for snapping a lodgepole pine and forcing it onto an electrical line that also snapped.

The sparking line fell onto a two-story wood frame home in the 8600 Block of Fall River Road in the community of Alice about 3:20 p.m. and quickly ignited the house. Nobody was home at the time, but a neighbor spotted the flames and called 911.

Clear Creek Fire Authority Station 7, which serves the high elevation neighborhoods of Alice and St. Mary's, went in service within minutes with a single volunteer firefighter. He drove the 1,800-gallon attack tender to the fire, less than a mile away, to find the house already fully engulfed. He established Alice Command, pulled an 1 ¾" attack line, donned his SCBA and approached only close enough to direct water onto the propane tank that already showed signs of scorching.

Additional CCFA volunteer firefighters from Station 2 in Idaho Springs (Ladder 2, Engine 2, Tanker 2 and Tanker 21) and Station 4 (Engine 4 and Engine 41) in Georgetown also responded, but their response time was much greater as they climbed the two-lane Fall River Road 3,000 vertical feet in nearly 9 miles from the Interstate 70 corridor.

Clear Creek EMS also responded with an ALS ambulance, as protocol requires, as did the Clear Creek Sheriff's Office Marmot Wildfire Crew because the wind threatened to push the blaze into the surrounding forest. CCSO deputies also controlled traffic in the area.

Central City Volunteer Fire Department responded with an engine and brush truck on a mutual aid request.

Driven by the high winds, the fire quickly engulfed the home and spread to nearby trees. Firefighters focused their efforts on the propane tank, a nearby home on the D-side of the house and a few torching lodgepoles on the B- and C-sides.

After only an hour, the chimney was the lone recognizable part of the house. Firefighters remained on scene to drown hot spots until 6 p.m. CCFA Station 7 personnel and Clear Creek deputies shared patrol duties overnight to verify the wind hadn't rekindled the fire and to check whether the chimney had collapsed.

Neither the emergency responders nor the homeowner (nor his dogs) was hurt in the fire.

CCFA Chief Kelly Babeon is confident the electrical line ignited the fire after ruling out other potential causes.