Dense ice fog obscured a remote Sterling mobile home as it caught fire Sunday night, allowing the fire to grow to disastrous proportions and leave the home’s owner with nothing to return to.
When 911 dispatch received the call reporting the fire at 9:24 p.m., Central Emergency Services firefighters had to contend with extreme fog that limited visibility to less than 50 feet, said Assistant Fire Chief, Gordon Orth.
“It was terrible getting there,” Orth said. “It was solid fog from here all the way to Sterling.”
The mobile home burned unnoticed for some time before anyone reported it, since the home’s owner, Joyce Williams, age unknown, was gone with her dog visiting a friend. And it took time for neighbors to report the fire since the home has few close neighbors and was cloaked in thick fog when the fire occurred, Orth said.
“So when they first called us to the scene it was a fully involved structure with fire coming out of every window and door. And the roof had partially collapsed already,” he said. “It was totally engulfed.”
Orth said that by the time he arrived an engine from Sterling had already knocked back the flames, but 10-foot flames continued to burn the mobile home at 36905 Tallarico Avenue.
One engine, three tankers, a rescue truck, one medic unit, two command vehicles and 20 personnel responded to the fire and brought it under control within 35 minutes of arriving and declared the fire out shortly after midnight.
Williams’ home, belongings and cat were all lost to the fire. CES estimated the mobile home, manufactured in 1972, and its contents were worth $45,000.
No foul play is suspected in the fire, but investigators are searching for its cause.
According information gathered by CES, the mobile home had several electrical problems and problems with its forced-air furnace.
“She’s had a lot of issues with breakers blowing and light bulbs burning out real quick,” Orth said.
Regularly tripping breakers are often a sign that a home’s electrical system may pose a fire hazard, he said.
“If you’ve tripped your breakers more than a coupe of times you should have that breaker tested, to see if there is a short or a ground in it,” he said. “That’s what a breaker is for, it’s sensing a problem and it’s kicking off. And a lot of people just go back in and turn breakers on rather than having them tested.”
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