On December 16, 2013 at 5:20 p.m. a first-alarm structure fire assignment was dispatched by the SB County Communications Center for a house fire in the Baldy Mesa area along the 9400 block of Baldy Mesa Rd. Multiple reports of a home on fire with smoke and flames coming from the roof were being made.
Upon arriving on scene, the first-in engine found an approximate 3000 sq. ft. home on fire with fire coming through the tile roof. As an initial attack had begun the roof began to collapse in and caused firefighters to retreat to safe areas to continue advancing their water streams on the fire. Water supply in the area hampered firefighting efforts creating hose supplies over a thousand feet in length.
It was also noted that San Bernardino County Fire Department had multiple pieces of equipment on three separate large incidents in the High Desert at the time of this fire. A Hazardous Materials Incident at the Pilot Truck Stop, a traffic accident in Phelan as well as another structure fire in Apple Valley. Due to resources being spread out fire apparatus from the Cities of Victorville and Hesperia as well as the towns of Phelan, Baldy Mesa and as far away as Wrightwood responded. An engine from Cal fire also joined in to assist resources at the scene.
Five engine companies responded along with a truck company, medic ambulance, brush patrol, water tender (to assist with additional water), a Battalion Chief and one investigator. The investigator deemed the fire to have started in or around the fire box behind a wood burning stove which had a fire in it. The fire then ran through the chase up into the attic where it spread rapidly. Damage to the structure was estimated to be $300,000 with contents estimated at $100,000. No civilians or firefighters were injured in the incident.
The San Bernardino County Fire Department reminds the public that as the temperatures continue to drop and you feel the need to start a fire in your fireplace you first should have it cleaned and inspected. A certified chimney sweep can clean the inside of your fireplace taking away highly flammable creosote which has a tendency to start chimney fires. They may also be able to check for cracks in your chimney which may lead to radiant heat escaping and allowing a fire to start in your attic. We also caution the public in creating large fires inside your fireplace and use wood moderately without overloading.