Flash fire rips through Truckee house
A one-second flash fire left two Truckee painters hospitalized with burns and the second-story of a Donner Lake house under construction scorched late Tuesday afternoon.
The painters, 26-year-old Kevin Starr and 43-year-old Peter Franke, were caught in what Truckee fire officials are calling a “lacquer flash,” that blew a door off its hinges, burned an entire room and hallway ceiling, and left them with second- and third-degree burns to their hands, arms and heads.
According to fire officials, while the men were spraying paint in an upstairs bedroom a concentration of volatile fumes built up. When the concentration met an unknown ignition source, the fumes and the surrounding air exploded in a one-second flash.
Officials said the actual ignition source is still under investigation.
Contractor Mike Porter said to officials that he was on the lower floor of the Salmon Street house around 4:45 p.m. when he heard the “boom.” He said he ran up the stairs and found one man in flames in another room. He said he patted him down to extinguish the fire.
Officials said the flame’s temperature, which reached between 1,500 and 1,800 degrees, melted the plastic straps on the man’s aspirator. Evidence of the flame’s direction showed where they licked at the pine ceiling, leaving behind black scars. Where the walls were prepped for painting, only fragments of burned paper and tape remained.
The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office said Porter called 9-1-1 to report the explosion and said he was driving the men to the hospital in his truck. The three were intercepted at the corner of Donner Pass Road and South Shore Drive by an ambulance crew that treated the men and transported them to Tahoe Forest Hospital.
The men were later driven to U.C. Davis Burn Center for treatment.
Fire Chief Mike Terwilliger said the accident is industrial related and will require an extensive investigation by the California Occupational Safety and Health Agency.
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Motorists on Interstate 80 should expect delays today as the California Department of Transportation continues work on the $2.5 million Farad rockfall project.