NORTH FORK – Quick thinking and some cool heads probably kept a structure fire in the Cascadel Woods area from turning into a disaster.
Marie and Chris Iden were loading a bar-b-que into a pickup with the help of friend Simon Elman at about 1:35 p.m. on Sunday, June 22, when Simon’s ever-present scanner crackled to life with a report of a fire at 33219 Cascadel Heights.
Simon serves on the fire brigade in Cascadel Woods, and is always monitoring the dispatches, but this one was particularly shocking because the address was a rental home owned by the Idens, just across the road.
Simon and Chris immediately ran down to the rental where Luke and Heidi Waymon live, and were told that the garage next door at the Bouche’s property was on fire.
They grabbed hoses, along with the brand new nozzles they had purchased just the day before, ran to the house, hooked up the hoses and began dousing the flames, which were spreading through the attic of the garage.
Meanwhile, Heidi had called 911, but she didn’t know the Bouche’s address, so she gave them hers, as they share a driveway.
A full wildland dispatch was called up, including three engines from the Sierra National Forest, six Cal Fire engines, a Squad and Water Tender from North Fork’s Station 11, two crews from Mt. Bullion, the Sierra Hot Shots, a dozer, an Air Attack plane and a helicopter.
Meanwhile, Marie called Kathy Tooms who has a phone list of the residents in the Cascadel area, and Kathy began alerting people to be prepared to evacuate if necessary. Marie then drove down to the intersection of Cascadel Woods and Cascadel Heights to direct incoming fire equipment to the correct address, and asked Carol Eggink to notify Brian Curtis, who manages the water for the community, to make sure the water tanks were topped off.
Fortunately, the quick work by neighbors Simon and Chris, and then by SNF Engine 53 which was first on scene, got the fire knocked down in short order, and the Incident Commander reported there was no more smoke or flames as of 2:20 p.m. Firefighters then worked to make sure it was dead out and posed no further danger, remaining on the scene until about 4 p.m. when the “Forks Fire” was called officially controlled.
Air resources were called off, along with most of the other engines, equipment and personnel.
The Bouche’s returned home during the incident, and were of course very relieved to see their home intact and know that their cat was safe.
Marie Iden says the whole thing was just miraculous.
“It really is a miracle. Heidi is seldom home on Sundays, and with the Bouche’s not at home, and Barb and Sandy on the other side also gone, no one would have seen it until it was too late,” says Marie, who notes that Jeff Bouche is a cabinet maker and his shop is just 10 feet from the garage that caught fire.
“It’s also a miracle that Heidi just happened to go out to her garage at just that moment, and saw the fire.”
She says Heidi and Luke are both paramedics, and with Simon’s training on the fire brigade, they all knew just what to do.
“These are people who know how to remain calm under pressure,” says Marie.
With everything under control and the fire completely out, it was a little easier to joke about things a bit.
“Yesterday we celebrated my 70th birthday at the Clubhouse, and I said we couldn’t light the candles on my cake because I didn’t have a burn permit,” laughs Marie.
It looks like the folks in Cascadel are taking this fire season very seriously, and have procedures in place for this type of emergency. And just a reminder – Cal Fire has banned open burning in all State Responsibility Areas across the state, burn permit or not.
As for this fire, the cause is under investigation. The fire was contained to just the garage, with no damage to the house and no involvement of the surrounding vegetation.