While two residences and a garage were destroyed in an accidental fire Monday night, Lewiston Fire Chief Mel Deardorff said all were lucky it didn’t destroy more homes.
At about 6:05 p.m., Lewiston, Weaverville and Douglas City fire departments were dispatched to 6630 Brown’s Mountain Road in Lewiston, for a propane tank malfunction that ignited the roof of a residence.
“When I pulled out of my house, I could already see a huge column of smoke,” Deardorff said. “It really took off.” Deardorff said the fire started at a two-story residence, spread to a second home and also destroyed a garage.
“The houses down there are packed into a small space,” he said. “I’m still unsure which resident owned the garage.”
Deardorff said all residents were able to make it out of the homes safely and have relatives in the area to stay with.
Based on the density of homes in the area, he said Lewiston is fortunate to have had enough fire department resources to keep the fire from spreading to more homes in the area.
Lewiston Fire Department sent two engines, while Douglas City sent an engine and a water tender. Weaverville Fire Department also responded and Cal Fire made four water drops with its helicopter. He said that with three water tenders on scene, and the ability to refill quickly, water was not an issue.
“There were embers going everywhere,“ Deardorff said. “We really had our hands full for the first hour before we could get a handle on it. There was a lot of heat coming off and it was going up into the trees. It was probably two hours [to containment] because we had so much going on.” Fire also spread to about an acre of vegetation in the area.
Deardorff said his department works well with other area departments and estimated that about 30 firefighters arrived. While there were no injuries to residents or firefighters, some were treated at the scene for heat exhaustion.
“We were really lucky we didn’t have any wind,” he said. “It was right at the base of Brown’s Mountain and it was really throwing stuff up into the air.”
It’s yet unknown how many residents were displaced.
Editor's note: It was later clarified that the fire started in the roof of a mobile home and spread to the two-story building.