Pyrotechnic attic fire quickly extinguished

FLAMES BURST from the roof of a Powers Drive home that caught fire March 1. The cause of the fire is still under investigations. Photo courtesy of the EDH Fire Department

FLAMES BURST from the roof of a Powers Drive home that caught fire March 1. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Photo courtesy of the EDH Fire Department

Quick response and careful timing by El Dorado Hills firefighters prevented an attic fire at 630 Powers Drive from spreading into the house early Tuesday morning. Firefighters vented the oxygen-starved fire from three places simultaneously, directing a 30-foot fire ball into the night sky.

“They timed it just right,” said interim Fire Chief Jim O’Camb of the brief but dramatic pyrotechnic display on March 1. “If they don’t, all that fire, water and smoke blows back into the house.”

Firefighters let the fire suck water into the attic from the ceiling vent. It was extinguished within minutes.

The resident heard a suspicious crackling noise in the attic shortly after midnight Tuesday, and had his wife and daughter up by the time the smoke alarm went off, O’Camb said.

El Dorado Hills firefighters got the call at 12:18 a.m. Battalion Chief Antonio Morino arrived three minutes later with Engine 85 on his heels. He found the family in the lawn and “charged” smoke spewing out of the attic vents, according to O’Camb.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated but, O’Camb said, aging wiring in the attic was a likely culprit.

The house’s original shake roof had been replaced with a new, fire retardant composition roof, on top of the original 1×4 ‘skip sheeting’ underlayment, which provided the primary fuel for the blaze.

“They laid down foil clad plywood on top of the old underlayment,” he said, adding that the foil contained the heat and hastened the spread of the fire into both first- and second-floor sections of the attic.

The quick response kept the fire contained to the attic, with almost no sign of smoke in the house, O’Camb continued.

Engineer Brenton Warren suffered second-degree burns when the fire “flashed” through the attic vent he’d just pried open. He was treated at the scene and did not require hospitalization.

Within three minutes of the “flash” the fire was all but out, having sucked the wet air throughout the attic, said O’Camb. The roof structure suffered extensive damage but the interior and furniture survived the fire relatively unscathed, he added.

The name of the family was not available at press time. O’Camb said they are staying with relatives in Folsom. The family cat was at large as of last Wednesday.

Damp conditions prevented any threat to neighboring homes, said O’Camb. Engine companies from Folsom and Cameron Park turned out to help with the mop up.

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