The “Acorn Fire,” that burned 7 acres near North Fork on Saturday, Sept 29., was caused by a faulty carburetor and an unfortunate series of events.
When the driver of a pickup pulled over off Road 200 into Golden Acorn Court to deal with some car trouble, he found that his carburetor had caught fire.According to Karen Guillemin, Fire Prevention Specialist at Cal Fire, the driver pulled the air filter out from under the hood and dropped it in the vegetation beside the road, starting the fire.
“We’ve all been in this type of situation, where we’ve had car trouble,” said Guillemin. “But it’s important to be careful how you react when you’re in a wildland area. If you pull off to the side of the road and park, the undercarriage of your car can start a fire.”
Guillemin advises people to carry a fire extinguisher in their car, or use dirt if an extinguisher is not available, so as to avoid what happened in this instance.
Fortunately, with such a quick response from nearby Cal Fire engines from the Rancheria and the Sierra National Forest Crew in North Fork, this fast-moving blaze was brought under control before more serious damage was done.
“We had our full wildland response there, and firefighters got a good handle on it right away,” said Guillemin. “At one point, one structure was threatened, but the aircraft were there quickly.”
An S-2 attack aircraft dropped fire retardant on the leading edge of the fire, and two helicopters ferried water from a nearby pond. Ground crews and a dozers put in lines and hose lays, and the fire was contained in about two hours.
There were several homes in the area very near the blaze, but none was involved.
The driver of the pickup was issued a citation. People responsible for fires, whether intentional or accidental, can also be billed for the cost of putting them out.
“This fire had a lot of potential,” said Guillemin, who reminds everyone of how important it is to clear defensible space around their homes. “This was an area where nothing was being maintained or managed. Everyone needs to give us that defensible space.”
A Fire Hazard Abatement Checklist was sent out to property owners earlier this summer, and it is very important that people complete the tasks on the list every year, and then return it to Cal Fire. If you haven’t returned yours yet, you can either mail it, or drop it off at any fire station.
Failure to complete the basic requirements outlined on the checklist will subject the property owner to an inspection by Cal Fire personnel, and “The first violation of PRC 4291 is an infraction punishable by a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500,” the mailer states.
With the very dry conditions this time of year, Cal Fire urges everyone to take all necessary precautions to protect their homes from the ravages of wildfire.