Monday afternoon the Mammoth Lake Fire Department responded to a call that flames were leaping out of the corners of a fireplace and insert at San Sierra Condominiums on Horshoe Dr.
Mammoth Fire Marshal Thom Heller said that it was another case of a fire insert with not enough clearance from the wood behind it. Heller said that in the 70s, inserts were placed into fireplaces and 20 or 30 years later, fire can start. Heller said the amount of heat generated by the insert bakes the moisture out of wood behind it and fire starts.
In this case, in unit 20 at San Sierra, Heller said the renters started a fire and after awhile saw smoke coming out from the insert. Then flames leaped out of one corner. The renter, Heller said, threw water on the flames and saw more fire come out of the right corner. He called the fire department.
Heller said the unit manager used fire extinguishers in the area behind the gap of the facade. He said the manager was able to knock the fire down, and when the fire department arrived they put it out completely. Heller said that fortunately a smoke detector, fire extinguishers and someone there when the fire started helped with a positive outcome.
Fire Marshall Heller said that fires starting behind fireplace inserts is not unique to Mammoth Lakes. He did add that there are thousands of inserts like this around Mammoth Lakes.