Officials: Propane barbecue caused Washoe Fire | SierraSun.com

Officials: Propane barbecue caused Washoe Fire

The origin of the 20-acre West Shore fire that destroyed five homes near Tahoe City has been confirmed as a propane barbecue located on the back deck of 1525 Washoe Way, fire officials said Thursday.

The North Tahoe Fire Protection District investigation continues and a district spokesman said they will soon release more details of the exact cause of the propane barbecue ignition.

The barbecue unit is currently being tested at an independent lab to see if the grill had any faulty parts and determine why it started the fire, which strong winds spread to neighboring homes.

“[Fire] investigators have ways of telling what started first, what the point of origin was, if there were any accelerants,” said North Tahoe Fire spokesman Ed Miller.

“It’s amazing how much they can pull out of the charred remains.”

North Tahoe Fire officials will not make any determination over liability in the fire, said Miller.

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“When it’s an accident, then it’s an accident. When it’s deliberate, then somebody has to pay. At this point we’re not involved in who pays who … that’s determined by the insurance companies and any attorneys,” Miller said.

The Washoe Fire began in the Tahoe Park neighborhood just after 1:20 p.m. Saturday, fueled by high winds and red flag conditions. Several residents were evacuated from the neighborhood. The fire was fully contained by Sunday morning and completely extinguished at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Fire personnel are still patrolling the area because of the possibility of rekindling, officials said.

Ultimately, six structures on Washoe Way and Tahoe Woods Boulevard and a boat trailer were burned to the ground and three other residences and six vehicles were also damaged by the flames.

Estimates for both property damage costs and suppression costs have not been determined, Miller said.