In the biting cold wind Saturday night, two Bishop homes were destroyed by fire. Volunteer firefighters from Bishop and Big Pine were joined by CalFire to put out the blaze on Navajo Circle in the Meadow Creek neighborhood.
Bishop Fire Chief Ray Seguine reports that the fire started in a garbage can between the two homes. When firefighters arrived on scene, both structures were burning, with flames starting to spread into the attics, the Chief explained. A vehicle parked behind one of the structures caught fire, which added to the heat. Seguine says that the aluminum rims on the vehicle melted, which indicates the fire reached 1100 degrees.
With rafters, joists and other framing, attic fires are difficult to put out. Seguine explained that firefighters had to enter the homes to pull the ceilings down to fully extinguish the flames. He says both homes were essentially totaled.
With high winds, the concern was to put the fire out, but also to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby homes. The fire did spread to a home on Apache Drive, behind the main fire, but firefighters were able to limit the damage to a small area on the roof.
Firefighters worked from a variety of angles to extinguish the blaze. For one 20 minute stretch, Seguine says that the combined flow of water onto the fire totaled 2000 gallons a minute.
With so many different agencies and people working to put this fire out, Seguine says this fight was a team effort. In the same way ski resorts make snow, mist and spray from the water formed snow and ice in places at the scene of the fire. While no one was injured in this fire, Symons Ambulance crews worked to salt the icy areas so that firemen wouldnt slip. Neighbors were able to get the pets out of the houses, and later brought coffee to the firefighters who worked into the night to ensure the fire was completely out.
In the end two homes were heavily damaged and may be total losses, Seguine says. Ashes from a woodstove, thrown into a garbage can were the cause of this fire. Seguine says that the homeowner had thrown the ashes away two days before the fire started.
Ashes from woodstoves, fireplaces, and even pellet stoves are a common cause of fires. If you do chose to throw your ashes away, Seguine says that you should place your ashes in a metal bucket and stir in water to ensure that the ashes wont ignite a fire inside a trash can. This also applies to ashes that you plan to dump in your garden or compost pile. Like a campfire make sure the ashes are cold and thoroughly wet.