NORTH FORK — Crews are at scene of a residential structure fire in North Fork. The first firefighters to arrive reported that one home was fully involved and approximately one-tenth of an acre of vegetation was burning.
Sierra National Forest personnel were the first ones on scene and started digging a fireline with hand tools around the structure.
The fire was first reported at 9:23 p.m. on Wild Rose Lane just north of the Old Mill site off Douglas Ranger Station Road, and there was imminent danger of the fire spreading into the wildlands.
After calling 911, neighbors Jordan and Jen called Martinez to alert him to the fire. Several people then began clearing out any brush that was left near the house.
Meanwhile, Sierra National Forest Battalion Chief Burt Stalter and his son Denver were on their way up from Fresno where they’d been working with another fire crew. As they came over the hill into South Fork they saw the tell-tale orange glow. The Stalters raced to the scene and began digging a fire line.
When the fire was dispatched, the closest staffed engine responding was out of Fresno County.
It was more about 45 minutes before an engine with water arrived at the scene, and meanwhile neighbors filled tubs, buckets and garbage cans with water to wet down the perimeter and keep the fire from spreading into the vegetation.
Jonathan Martinez rents the home from JoAnne Griffin — who moved from Wild Rose Lane to Fresno last year — and had done a very good job of clearing defensible space.
As everyone raced to clear out the remaining brush from the vicinity of the burning home, the power lines began sparking, the power pole caught on fire, and sparks began shooting out in all directions as firefighters yelled for everyone to get back.
By 10:07 p.m. the vegetation portion of the fire had been contained due to the efforts of a sheriff’s deputy, off-duty Forest Service employees, the residents and neighbors digging a line with shovels around the fire.
Just as four engines rolled up to the scene about 10:13 p.m. another fire was reported on Highway 41 at Road 406. By that time, those working on the Rose Fire had it contained to the structure and any other resources were called off.
At approximately 10:30 p.m. the fire on Highway 41 was reported out by Caltrans workers.
The Rose Fire was contained at 11:02 p.m., with an estimated one hour for full containment.
This is a clear example of how clearing defensible space kept a potential disastrous fire from spreading into the wildland, said the Incident Commander. After being evacuated last Friday for the Fork Fire, which burned just across Douglas Ranger Station Road, residents in the area have those on Wild Rose Lane to thank for keeping their property clear and preventing what could have been a repeat of last week’s incident, which displaced over 200 residents.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
For anyone wishing to help this family who lost everything last night, visit their GoFundMe page.