Chief Don Wagner Gives Sage Advice |

Chief Don Wagner Gives Sage Advice

The “Chat with the Chief” meeting was held Nov. 19 in Lake Wildwood. Chief Don Wagner of Penn Valley Fire Department tirelessly conducts these monthly meetings for the Penn Valley community, answering questions from residents.

We’re very lucky to have him watching out for our community.

“We have a PSPS, Red Flag Warning and Winter Storm Watch tomorrow (Nov. 20) —all in one shot,” Chief Wagner said. “We’re not done with high fire season.”

Stay vigilant about high fire season weather (see article in this issue of TWI) and please keep keenly aware of the following:


— In the Penn Valley area, there’s been two house fires in the last two months, including one in Lake Wildwood. People forget about burning candles and leave them unattended.

They melt and catch the surface below (such as a flammable table) on fire, which spreads from there.

Embers, which are cleaned out from fireplaces

— Embers stay hot for a very long time. Submerge embers/ashes in water before disposing of them.

— One homeowner threw the embers in the outdoor Waste Management receptacle, which caught fire. The embers drifted into the attic vent and caught the house on fire.

— Another homeowner kept his fireplace embers in a covered metal container for two days then spread them on the ground. The ashes retained the heat and started a stump on fire, which resulted in a small grass fire.

— Another resident put their ashes in a paper bag and placed it in the closet, which eventually burned three floors of the home.

Autos and Highway Fires

— Keep your vehicle well maintained.

— A commercial truck had its catalytic converter breaking up and shooting out 2,000-degree pieces from the exhaust, which started a series of brush fires down the road.

— Another driver was hauling a two-axle trailer and didn’t notice the flat tire. The other three tires were pulling the trailer well.

This flat tire heated up, broke apart and threw hot debris into nearby brush, which caught on fire.

PSPS Outages

— PG&E says the Public Safety Power Shut Offs could go on for the next 10 years. Arrgh.

Generator Safety

— Usually, it’s the wrong installation and/or poor maintenance that causes problems.

— The Wildwood Independent published Generator Safety Tips in the last issue. Please reference this issue for further advice.


— Be careful about charging your golf cart battery in your garage. Eventually, your battery gets old, goes bad and fails.

When you overcharge a broken battery, it can overheat and emit hydrogen sulfide, which is a rotten-egg smelling poisonous gas.

— Lithium ion batteries hold charges for a long time. Let the battery drain down or go dead before recharging. Don’t let them sit for long periods of time plugged in.

Otherwise, they can get overcharged, heat up, blow up or burn up. These batteries are in your phone, laptop, I-pads and other “smart” devices.

Let’s all remain vigilant this holiday season so that we are safe and enjoy our friends, our family and our wonderful community.

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Good Job


I guess I am getting old and grumpy. What is with the “good job” expression being so commonly used in very unexpected settings?

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