Blaze nears home |

Blaze nears home

John HartA helicopter from the Big Hill Helitack Base in Eldorado National Forest drops water on a wildfire on Cedar Song Road Friday evening.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

The truckload of recycled corrugated steel was collected for the Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert later this month.

“We were going to create a huge forest fire from it in the desert. It’s very ironic,” a sweating Ron Seivertson said.

On Friday night, he and his neighbors found a more urgent use for the steel.

Sheet by sheet, they laid it on the burning ground, helping to slow flames that eventually burned 15 acres of trees and grass and imperiled at least one home on Cedar Song Road, north of Highway 49 and east of South Yuba River State Park.

“It was just a miracle they had it available,” said Nacoe Garrison, whose home is uphill from where the fire started, on the opposite side of Cedar Song.

A massive ground and air attack contained the fire by 7:12 p.m. – less than 90 minutes after it was reported.

Included were four tanker planes, an air attack plane, a helicopter, 17 engines and two hand crews, according to a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection dispatcher.

A tree branch that fell on a power line was to blame, CDF Capt. Troy Baker said. The flames came within 100 feet of a house. The fire appeared to move north along a gully before hopping Cedar Song and stopping shy of 90-year-old Joe Garesio’s home.

Garesio, a former 49er Fire Protection District chief, had already loaded his valuables into his truck after a loss of electricity kept him from pumping water out of his pond.

“It didn’t look too good,” he said. “I didn’t think they were going to stop it out here.”

Cedar Song resident Barton Coffman said the power went out at his home soon after he heard what sounded like a crashing tree. Not much later, he joined the sheet metal brigade.

At the Burning Man festival – an annual gathering of eclectic performance artists – the steel will be used to protect the ground from scorching when Seivertson stages his mock forest fire.

Besides CDF, the U.S. Forest Service and Nevada County Consolidated, 49er, Nevada City and North San Juan fire districts responded.

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