OAKHURST — A call-out just after 10 a.m. this morning sent firefighters to a home on Pine Ridge Road where the first engine on scene reported a two-story home with flames showing on the roof.
The two young men, ages 22 and 24, who were home at the time say they had put a fire in the woodstove. Some time later, they smelled smoke, and one ran outside to find the shake roof on fire.
Madera County Fire Engine 12 was on scene within four minutes of the dispatch, and as more resources arrived, firefighters began making entry into the structure. However, with the flames venting out through the roof of the house, firefighters were pushed back out due to the intensity of the blaze.
“These older wood structures are a bit more volatile, especially with the roof being all shake construction and no sheeting,” said Incident Commander and Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mike Surbor. “There are generally less firewalls in older homes, and without reinforcement and sheeting, we can’t get onto the roof.”
Crews then set up their attack on the outside of the home, knocking down the flames enough to allow re-entry.
The fire was contained mainly to the second floor, which was completely destroyed, though there was damage throughout the house, including to the attached garage, and smoke and water damage to the main floor.
The two occupants of the home were able to get out safely and their father, who was in Madera at the time, was notified. Though there were concerns about the safety of the two family cats, one of them was seen streaking across the lawn just as the last of the flames were being doused.
The fire was contained at 11:25 a.m., at which time the investigation into the exact cause got underway. Firefighters also began the task of ensuring that there was no fire smouldering within the walls of the structure, and salvaging any belongings that survived the flames.
Discussions with the residents helped to determine if they had friends or family who would provide them with housing, or whether Red Cross services would be needed.
With so many resources at scene, Mariposa Command Center called up other engines not committed to this fire to move up and cover stations left without an engine. As the fire was brought under control, the Incident Commander began assessing which resources could be released and made available to respond for other incidents.
Fortunately, there is very little tree mortality in this neighborhood, likely due to the fact that these trees are not drought-stressed because of lawn watering. The fire did not burn even the cedar tree right next to house.
“If this had happened in the summer, it would have been a full wildland dispatch,” said Chief Surbor.