Contractor’s crew helps suppress Sierra wildfire |

Contractor’s crew helps suppress Sierra wildfire

Firefighters work a blaze off Autumn Hills Road on Aug. 17. That fire and one south of it in Jobs Peak Ranch on Tuesday were prevented from becoming worse through the intervention of neighbors and workers in the Sierra.
Brad Coman |

Painting contractor Mark Waggoner said his crew was cleaning up on Tuesday when they saw smoke coming from the woods down Forest Hills Road in Five Creek Ranch.

“It was around 2:30 p.m. when I saw smoke in the distance,” he said. “I thought it could be a controlled burn up here maybe, but it was windy. I volunteered for seven years, and I know if there’s wind they generally say ixnay on controlled burns.”

He said after keeping an eye on it for a while, he noticed it wasn’t changing, so he decided to check it out.

“I had one of the workers at the house come toward me and tell me ‘it’s a fire and it’s starting to go across.’”

“It could have been worse. We were glad we were here when the fire got started. The more hands the better. We were glad to help.”Mark Waggoner

Waggoner had his son grab the fire extinguisher from the truck. More passersby turned up and Waggoner said there were as many as seven people working on the fire.

“It’s a good thing the wind decided to be nice to us,” he said. “At one point we thought we had it stopped, and it would hit one more piñon. It got pretty hot.”

Between the extinguisher and dirt, the group managed to get most of the fire out before East Fork Fire District arrived.

“It could have been worse,” he said. “We were glad we were here when the fire got started. The more hands the better. We were glad to help.”

East Fork and U.S. Forest Service firefighters responded to the report of the fire at 3 p.m. Because the fire was so close to homes and it was windy, a second alarm was called.

When firefighters arrived, they found a 5,000-square-foot area burning that was being extinguished by the construction workers.

The fire was out in a half hour, and firefighters are investigating the cause.

Anyone with information is asked to contact East Fork Fire District at 782-9040.

“East Fork Fire wants to thank all of the workers in the area that greatly assisted with keeping the fire small,” Battalion Chief Scott Fraser said. “This fire had major potential to grow very large and threaten a large amount of homes.”

This was the second fire in the Sierra foothills in less than a week, and the second time quick thinking on the part of a passerby helped prevent a larger conflagration.

On Aug. 17, a neighbor saw a fire on Autumn Hills Road and used a hose to slow it down until firefighters responded.

It has been three solid months since Minden has recorded more than a trace of precipitation.

“We have had no real precipitation in several weeks,” Fraser said. “Recent thunderstorms have not produced a large amount of rain countywide, only in small areas.”