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Fire destroys Penryn house, closes UP tracks

Smoke could be seen in Auburn
By: Gus Thomson Journal staff writer
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AUBURN CA - Fire engulfed a Penryn house Thursday night, forcing temporary closure of an adjacent stretch of Union Pacific Railroad tracks between Newcastle and Loomis. Penryn Fire Chief Mitch Higgins said the initial report of smoke in the Callison Road area came in shortly after 8 p.m. When Higgins and a crew arrived, they found the single-story house fully engulfed in flames. Higgins, who had just returned from fighting fires in Northern California, said there were initial concerns that the home's elderly owner was inside but he was later located elsewhere. The fire itself was stubborn and difficult to fight. Higgins said there were concerns about the flames and embers spreading it into nearby brush and trees. Callison Road between Stley Road and Ridgeview Lane was shut to traffic. The wood-frame house, believed to be at least 100 years old, was believed to have several containers of liquid petroleum gas from the owner's days as a welder, Higgins said. Black smoke could be seen as far away as Auburn. The location of the fire is about 6 miles west of the city in a rural residential area. By 9 p.m., the fire was considered controlled. Fire crews continued to monitor its possible spread to nearby trees and brush as water tenders were brought in from Auburn and the South Placer District to provide a steady flow in an area without hydrants. A nearby resident, Cord Lamphere, said he heard sirens and ran out of his house to see flames shooting into the air. “I panicked. I said, ‘Pack up.’" Lamphert said. But firefighters had soon brought the wall of flame under control. "They did a great job," Lamphert said. Just after 10 p.m., a westbound Union Pacific freight train was traveling at 5 mph toward Callison Road after officials of the rail corporation convinced local fire officials to allow it through the fire site. "They described it as a high-priority load," Higgins said. Also aiding in the effort to extinguish the fire were crews from Loomis, Newcastle, Rocklin and Placer County fire districts. The cause was under investigation.