Small fire creeps up on homes near Bell Air Drive

Blaze contained in an hour
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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A small fire sparked by a water agency mower burned a half acre of land off of Bell Air Drive Monday afternoon but was quickly contained by fire officials.

The fire started around 2 p.m. Monday and was contained within the hour about 100 feet from one home.

Chris Paulus, Cal Fire battalion chief, said a flail mower was being operated by workers with the Placer County Water Agency in the area when the fire started. Paulus said the man operating the mower noticed it "sounded mechanically wrong" before the fire started.

"They took every action to control the fire," Paulus said. "They had multiple fire extinguishers and shovels."

Mike Nichol, director of field service for the Placer County Water Agency, said the crew was working on clearing ladder fuel, or brush and tree limbs that could help a wildfire spread to the tree canopy, when the fire was sparked.

Nichol said the mower being used needed to be examined to determine exactly how the fire started, but confirmed the man operating it looked behind him at one point and saw flames.

Cal Fire was called immediately after.

"We want to emphasize our appreciation for Cal Fire for showing up so quickly and getting things under control," Nichol said.

Cal Fire responded with four engines and a water tanker. The fire smoldered throughout the afternoon while crews continued to douse it for further control.

The fire burned in a wooded area off of Bell Air Drive near New Airport Road and within sight of Phil and Cheryl Reome's home.

Phil said this was the closest a fire has ever come to his house and that he was in Downtown Auburn when his wife called him. When he saw the plume of smoke from New Airport Road, he sped up.

"This is by far the closest; it's within 100 feet of our house," Phil Reome said.

Shelly Tompkins, who works at the nearby RJT Construction Consultants, didn't even know there was a fire burning near her place of work at first.

"My first clue was all the fire trucks going up the road and then I got a call from my neighbor," Tompkins said.

That neighbor was Cheryl Reome, who had just gotten home to her teenage daughter and her friends Monday afternoon.

"I called my husband and started grabbing the keys to unlock the gates and then thought of what was most precious to me, so I started grabbing my photographs," Cheryl Reome said.

No structures were damaged and no one was hurt in Monday's fire.

Contact Amber Marra at Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.