Quincy arson fire subjects firefighters to needless risk

Feather Publishing
5/24/2011

At 1:53 a.m. Saturday, Quincy Fire was dispatched to a reported structure fire at 1195 Lee Road in East Quincy. Upon arrival firefighters were met with a fully involved single-family wood-framed house with fire extending to two exposed detached garages.

Before the first fire engine could even arrive the flames were high enough to burn the overhead TV cables, telephone wires and threaten the high-voltage wire which passed over the property.

Eighteen volunteers responded with three fire engines and a support vehicle. It took approximately 15 minutes to extinguish the flames and another two hours to overhaul the smoldering structure.

ArsonFire
Quincy Fire Department battles an arson fire in an abandoned house

As soon as the flames were knocked down, Quincy Fire’s cause and origin investigator, Capt. Tim Pitlock, began his investigation into the cause of this catastrophic fire. After interviewing neighbors and PG&E it was determined that the house had been vacant for nearly two years. All the utilities had been shut off and no other ignition sources could be identified. After determining the location of the origin of the fire, the building was turned over to the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office to protect any evidence that still might be uncovered. At 8 a.m. Sunday, Pitlock met with CalFire investigator J. Bergland and the arduous process of sifting through the rubble began.

After clearing all debris from one of the back rooms, obvious signs of flammable liquid trails were found on the floor, confirming the fire department’s suspicions that the fire was deliberately set. The case has now been turned over to the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation.

If not for the quick response of the Quincy Fire Department this fire was already in the process of spreading to neighboring, occupied homes.

This fire endangered the lives of nearly 25 responding firefighters, support personnel and law enforcement officers. Every year America loses an average of 100 firefighters in the line of duty. The Quincy Volunteer Fire Department has already paid the ultimate price by losing fire Capt. Bill Hopman in January to a heart attack after he responded to an accidental chimney fire. “To endanger the lives of our volunteers fighting a fire in an abandoned building that was deliberately set ablaze is unacceptable,” said Quincy Fire Chief Robbie Cassou.

“Fire-fighting will always be a life-threatening occupation whether you are paid or a volunteer. We as firefighters accept that risk when we pin on the badge. But the crime of arson in my opinion is the same as attempted murder. Starting an uncontrolled fire that our firefighters will have to risk their lives responding to is the same as pointing a gun at their head and pulling the trigger,” said Cassou. “It is for this reason that my wife and I are offering a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for starting the fire at 1195 Lee Road.”

If you have information regarding this fire contact the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office at 283-6363, the Quincy Fire Department at 283-0870 or the CalFire Arson Tip Line, (800) 468-4408.

Last summer the Quincy Fire Department responded to several human-caused wildland fires. One was determined to be the work of children playing with matches, three others led to the arrest of a suspect found hiding near the scene of the fires, while two others remain unsolved. “Though there is no evidence to suggest that the arson fires of last year are in any way related to the Lee Road fire, the fact remains that we clearly have an arson problem in Quincy,” said Cassou.

 

 


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