Quick response: Officials extinguish vegetation fire, cause undetermined | TheUnion.com

Quick response: Officials extinguish vegetation fire, cause undetermined

A neighbor of the home off Ladybird Drive and Highway 49 in South County saw smoke and called 911.
Photo: Elias Funez

The apples on the tree in front of the salmon-colored house on the corner of Ladybird Drive and Highway 49 were left blistered after Monday’s fire burned a quarter-acre of vegetation and some outlying structures on the property.

Fire Marshall Terry McMahan, with the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, said a storage shed and a pump house for an existing well burnt down on the property. He saw minor damage to the exterior of the residence — a broken window, scorched paint and burnt eaves.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, McMahan said, adding that authorities will review video footage and compare witness statements with the site’s burn patterns.

Rachel Sing noticed smoke coming from her neighbor’s yard 10 minutes after returning home with her 2-year-old daughter. Upon investigation and a hike down her driveway, Sing said she saw large flames on tires just a couple of feet from a large propane tank and dialed 911.

“I got on the phone with dispatch, and I couldn’t remember my own address,” Sing said.

Flustered, Sing said she wondered aloud if anyone else had reported the fire.

“No,” said the operator, according to Sing. “He said, ‘We got this,’ and hung up.”

Sing said she was frantic, trying to contact her partner to devise an evacuation plan for her daughter and animals. Her land borders the affected property, adding that the driveway to her place actually crosses through her neighbor’s land.

Sing said after securing her child, she started the water and dragged her garden hose its full length from her residence.

“I got a hose as far as I could reach it and I had it on there — just to do something,” Sing said.

Sing saw another neighbor wielding a hose at the fire’s edge, about 200 feet from her house.

“(A person) popped up out of nowhere on the hill,” Sing said. “(They) were over there trying to spray water on everything. The fire went over the driveway, so if it wasn’t for (them), it would have gone up the hill.”


Neighbor Hector Ramirez said the Carriage Fire is the closest threat of fire he’s had over the course of his four-year residency. He was relieved at firefighters’ quick response to the incident, given the region’s obvious flammability.

Ramirez said the land’s undergrowth was cleared by goats that roamed the property two years ago. Since then, the brush has grown back and continues to pose a serious risk to the region’s residents.

Ramirez said the fire could have been caused by something as small as a cigarette or engine spark.

Categorized as a vegetation fire by victims and witnesses, McMahan said Cal Fire is the agency responsible for leading the investigation into the Carriage Fire’s cause.

Sing said she was impressed by how quickly first responders arrived at the scene and kept a safe distance as the fire blazed.

“I was out there for a long time to make sure they knew there was someone at this residence,” Sing said, adding that she was keeping a close eye on her driveway access.

Eventually, the attending fire chief approached Sing with comforting words.

“The chief said, ‘It’s contained over there. If anything changes, we’ll let you know.’”

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com

Firefighters quickly secured the surrounding homes and vegetation, keeping Monday’s fire off Highway 49 at Ladybird Drive from spreading.
Photo: Courtesy photo

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