Unattended burn pile sparks fire; man cited
An unattended burn pile was the cause of a half-acre brush fire Tuesday afternoon near La Barr Meadows Road and McKnight Way.
Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Battalion Chief David Ray said a man burning six piles of debris in a field off of La Barr Meadows Drive left the piles unattended at approximately 2 p.m. while he grabbed some lunch.
“One of the burn piles crept out,” Ray said. “It’s a previously logged area where there’s a lot of ground litter that can fuel the fire.”
A Grass Valley woman who was doing errands in the K-Mart shopping center saw smoke in the air and decided to investigate in her Ford F350 truck.
“I followed the smoke off of La Barr Meadows and saw the flames,” said Joan E. Saksa, a real estate agent “I didn’t see anyone around and the (fire) was getting wider. I decided to call 911.”
An engine from the Grass Valley Fire Department responded, along with one engine and a water tender from the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, one engine from the California Department of Forestry and a 15-member CDF handcrew.
The fire, reported at 2:18 p.m., was contained within 30 minutes.
CDF Battallion Chief Garrett McInnis said the man burning the piles was working for a developer, clearing the site. The area was harvested for timber last year, and the debris left behind was good fuel for the fire, he said.
McInnis said the man was cited for negligence and causing a fire. The amount of the fine associated with the offense will be determined by a judge, he said.
“He will also be responsible for suppression costs,” McInnis said.
Ray said burn piles must have 10 feet of clearance, while it appeared none of the piles had adequate clearance around them.
“As of May 1 you have to be in attendance,” Ray said, “and it didn’t look like he had enough clearance.”
Burn permits, which were required beginning May 1, can be obtained at CDF, USFS, Nevada County Consolidated Fire District and Grass Valley Fire Department stations, depending on the resident’s jurisdiction.
Burn permits are good for small piles, 4 feet or less in diameter, and may be used to burn dry vegetation only.
Make sure it is a burn day by calling 274-7928.
To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4236.
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