NORTH FORK – A pickup that caught fire on Old Town Road (Road 226) this morning blocked traffic and set neighbors’ nerves on edge as it spread into the vegetation.
The driver of the Ford pickup was westbound on Road 226 just after 11 a.m., when he reportedly ran out of gas. After retrieving a gas can, he returned to the vehicle, and during some point while trying to get the truck started, it caught fire, according to Cal Fire, quickly spreading into the nearby vegetation on the north side of the road.
Kit Teater and her husband were on their way to the North Fork Transfer Station when they came upon the burning truck sitting in the road, apparently with no one around. She assumed the occupant(s) had run to a nearby house to call 911.
She ran to the house that was being threatened by the fire, and banged on doors and windows until Linda Jones answered, supplying her with a fire extinguisher.
Neighbors and passers-by worked with hoes and shovels, while others formed a bucket brigade with 5-gallon buckets that Linda and her husband had in the yard, filled with recycled water.
“We had just had all the blackberry bushes between the road and our fence removed, otherwise it could have been a lot scarier,” said Linda.
Cal Fire Engine 4255 was first on scene, and quickly got the vehicle fire extinguished. Engine 4260 also responded, along with a Mt. Bullion crew, made up of firefighters who had not been sent out on strike teams to other fires across the state. They did mop-up and made sure the fire was dead out.
Residents who gathered along the road have good reason to worry when they hear sirens approaching, fast on the heels of the Willow and Corrine Fires. They have dozens of dead pine trees on their properties, and even though they have all done an outstanding job of clearing defensible space, the cost of removing dead trees is running into the thousands.
Jean Richter said they have over 80 trees that need to be removed, and neighboring Bandit Town Owner Jen McMillan has spent thousands of dollars taking down the dead pines and having remaining trees treated by Central Sierra Pest Control in hopes of saving them.
Road 226 was closed, or limited to one-way traffic, for nearly an hour as the fire was doused, mop-up completed and the burned out truck removed. Cal Fire was conducting an investigation and talking to the driver as the fire was being extinguished.