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Cause of 2-alarm fire determined to be accidental

39 firefighters battled blaze that damaged Folsom home, boat, vehicles
By: Bill Sullivan
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A total of 39 firefighters from the City of Folsom Fire Department, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Protection District and El Dorado Hills Fire Department fought off heat exhaustion Saturday evening during an intense structure fire in a well-known Folsom neighborhood.

At 5:22 p.m. units were dispatched to the 300 block of Illsley Way where a home, boat and a camping trailer had become engulfed in flames.

According to a report from the Folsom Fire Department, the occupants were home at the time and were alerted by a neighbor about the fire. The neighbor advised the homeowner their boat was on fire in the front of the garage.

Folsom Firefighters arrived at the address just four minutes after receiving the first 911 call.   When Folsom’s Engine 37 arrived, flames were visible and coming from the garage and vehicles parked in the driveway of the home and a camping trailer parked along the side of the home nestled in the Broadstone community.

The Folsom firefighters initiated aggressive fire attack and roof ventilation which prevented the fire from spreading any further. The firefighters checked the home for fire extension by removing sheetrock on the walls and ceilings. The fire was controlled within 30 minutes. Crews remained on scene for several hours salvaging personal belongings from the home for the homeowner and ensuring all remaining fire embers were completely extinguished.

Upon arrival to the scene, Christopher Fletchall, Battalion Chief for the Folsom Fire Department, upgraded the incident to a two-alarm fire. According to Fletchall, the upgrade was necessary to manage a rotation of active crews fighting the flames due to the intense heat combined with the triple-digit weather. Firefighters on scene were visibly exhausted from the heat and were rehydrated and rehabilitated on scene by the departments mobile rehab unit.

“We had to initiate a second alarm on this fire not necessarily just to extinguish it, but to help rotate crews and send them into rehab due to the intense heat,” said Fletchall. “Due to the temperatures, they had to rehydrate longer than normal and take longer rest periods between shifts. Once we got the fire knocked down and everyone through rehab, we were able to release the second alarm.”

A total of nine engine companies, four truck companies and three medic units responded to the scene. Additional response included Folsom Police, Fire Chief Felipe Rodriguez, Division Chief Mark Piacentini, Air 35, the Utility 112 Rehab Unit, Sacramento Metro Fire, El Dorado Hills Fire, SMUD and PG&E.

The cause of the fire is determined to be accidental, according to the report. According to the initial 911 call, it appears the blaze began in or near the boat.

While Saturday’s triple-digit heat made fighting the blaze a task for firefighters, Fletchall explained how the summer heat severely intensifies fire danger and can rapidly increase the spread of a fire of any size.

“When the temperatures are high like they are it produces a dangerous condition. Sunlight preheats everything and something that might take a while to ignite in the winter, can ignite just a few seconds. Conditions are dry, the heat is up and the humidity drops, and all it can take is a single ember to ignite and spread nearby vegetation or structures.”

One person complained of smoke inhalation and was assessed by Folsom Fire Paramedics, but was not transported to the hospital.