Wave of house fires in Auburn sparks fire safey tips

Auburn Fire Department shares holiday and winter safety guidelines
By: Sara Seyydin
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In the past couple of weeks, the Auburn City Fire Department and Placer County Fire- Cal Fire have responded to several structure fires that have left homes destroyed. While the individual causes are still being investigated, according to Battalion Chief Tom Carlisle of the Auburn City Fire Department, the impact has been fully felt by the families that have been displaced from their homes. Carlisle said while there is technically no “busy season” for fires, there are things residents can do near the holidays and during winter to lessen the risk of a fire at their home. “It’s pretty random. I don’t know if they got cause on any of the last four fires,” Carlisle said. “If we could predict when we were going to get structure fires we would be all staffed up and have the engine ready. That’s the nature of our job. We just have to always be at the ready.” Carlisle said that means being ready to respond at a moment’s notice, even on Christmas and other major holidays. He recalled that one Christmas he responded to a call where a family’s premium meat set their stove on fire. They lined up six prime rib on the rack in the oven with no pan underneath to catch the grease. That was enough to spark a fire, Carlisle said. The family managed to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher, but ended up coating the prime rib in white chemicals. “There was 300 bucks worth of prime rib under the white chemicals,” Carlisle said. “They are all standing around with their wine going, ‘Now what do we do?’” Carlisle said many people also think it’s OK to have a burn pile ablaze just because it’s cold outside. With the lack of rain lately, Carlisle said burn piles can be dangerous if burned on undesignated burn days. A free permit from the city is required. Each home should have defensible space around it, clear of dry grass, dry leaves and anything that could be flammable. “The goal is 100 feet from an inhabited structure,” Carlisle said. At his own home he tries to emulate the same fire safety tips he gives to others. “We have to walk the walk. We can’t just talk the talk,” Carlisle said. Carlisle agreed with Auburn City Firefighter of the year Erik Croft that doing simple things to prevent fires, especially on holidays, can make all the difference. “The last thing you want is a call on any major holiday,” Croft said. He recommends people not burn candles, or closely watch them if they do. With the dip in temperatures Croft said he has been responding to more calls about possible carbon monoxide poisoning. “People are heating with the stove or barbeque inside.” Croft said. “It’s the law to have a carbon monoxide detector.” The Auburn City Fire Department also recommends cleaning out gutters, emptying embers from the fireplace in a metal box and not nailing staples directly through wire when hanging Christmas tree lights. Reach Sara Seyydin at