Welding fire destroys roof, attic of Applegate home

Attempted fix to water heater leads to blaze
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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An attempted welding repair to a water heater in an Applegate home’s attic sparked a fire that destroyed the roof and attic before firefighters saved the rest of the house from damage, said Placer Hills Fire District engineer and paramedic Tess Clark.

The Placer Hills Fire District responded to the call at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and within 10 minutes crews arrived to find half of the attic and roof ablaze at the two-story home on the 18000 block of Orchard Place, according to the fire district.

The homeowner’s son had been the only person home at the time and no one was injured, Clark said.

Unable to extinguish the flames after material surrounding the heater ignited, he had to leave the home to find cell phone service to report the fire because the house lacked a landline and he couldn’t get a signal there, Clark said.

“So, there was a delay in notification, which allowed the fire to grow,” she said. 

When an emergency call is made on a cell phone rather than landline, it goes through the California Highway Patrol first before it is redirected to the proper fire department, delaying the response time, Clark said.

“It could be at least a couple minutes,” she said. “It’s not instantaneous like it would be with a landline.”

Placer Hills dispatched two engines and one water tender to the home. Auburn Fire Department and Cal Fire assisted with two fire engines apiece and Higgins Fire Protection District also responded to the scene.

Crews made an interior attack on the estimated 1,700 square foot home, and after it was extinguished they covered the roof with materials provided by the homeowner to secure it against coming storms, Clark said.

“The first and second stories were relatively intact – there was just water damage,” she said.

Clark stressed the importance of having a fire extinguisher available if someone is welding inside their home.

“It’s something you need to be cautious with,” she said.


Jon Schultz can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews