Donner Lake house fire causes major damage | SierraSun.com

Donner Lake house fire causes major damage

Renée Shadforth

The remains of a house near Donner Lake that burned down on the night of July 4. Officials say the blaze may have been started from a barbeque grill. Photo by Josh Miller/Sierra Sun

A Fourth of July barbecue near Donner Lake may have been the cause of a house fire, according to Truckee Fire Protection District reports.The fire occurred after the fireworks show at Donner Lake at 11:50 p.m. on Sunday and could be seen from most points around the lake. The fire caused major damage to the Ute Drive home, but the cost of the destruction has not been determined, said Gene Welch, Truckee Fire public safety and information officer.Though the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the origin of the blaze was near a barbecue, Welch said. The owner told fire officials that he had been barbecuing near the rear of the structure that afternoon.Three fire engines, an ambulance and two command vehicles responded to the scene. Truckee Police Department officers also responded.”There were a lot of rowdy people near the house,” said Truckee police Lt. Jeff Nichols. “There was quite a bit of pandemonium. A lot of people were intoxicated.”

Police arrested an individual at the scene of the fire for public intoxication and interfering with the fire department. It took officials three and a half hours to clear the area due to a leak in a natural gas line near the house, Welch said.Although fire officials are unsure of what caused the fire, Welch said it’s a reminder for people to understand proper ash disposal.”People should remember to only use barbecues in safe areas, depending on the conditions,” he said. “Keep barbecues away from any combustible space and maintain clearance from the side of a building.”The fire is also a reminder of dry forest conditions in the Sierra, which has caused fire restrictions to be put in place.”It’s very dry this year,” said Jeff McCaskill, U.S. Forest Service fire prevention technician. “We’ve been real lucky so far. It’s very dry for this early in the year.”Campfires are limited 17 local campgrounds. Smoking and off-roading are limited to specific areas.

On the NetTahoe National Forestwww.fs.fed.us/r5/tahoe/

Be barbecue safe• Ash disposal: Keep ashes in a metal bucket with a tight-fitting lid for at least three days before disposal or douse the ashes with water until they’re cool to the touch. Do not spread ashes on the ground and don’t leave them on the tray below the grill; they might blow away.• Lighter fluid: Never squirt charcoal lighter fluid on hot or burning embers. The bottle can suck air, and then fire, right back up to your hands.• Location: Know how fire-prone your surroundings are and act accordingly. Only use barbecues away from combustible materials and away from structures or decks.Information courtesy of Gene Welch, public safety and information officer with Truckee Fire Protection District.