Cause of Lincoln town house fire undetermined

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Saturday’s town-home fire near the intersection of Joiner Parkway and Las Palomas Loop caused $1.2 million in damages. The fire consumed a six-unit town home building late Saturday night, said Chief Dave Whitt of the Lincoln Fire Department. The cause of the fire is undetermined, and investigators Wednesday were unable to rule out a human cause, Whitt said. While there is still some investigating to do, it is not likely that a cause will be determined. The completed next-door building also suffered broken windows, minor damage to the gutters and melted vinyl, Whitt said. Although the Sacramento-Sierra Regional Arson Task Force, a consortium of investigators from area fire agencies, was called out, Whitt said Monday there was no indication of arson. There were 36 firefighters on the scene at the height of Saturday’s fire fight, Whitt said, including a strike team that included units from Rocklin, Roseville, Cal Fire, Penryn, Loomis and Newcastle. Firefighters were alerted at 11:20 p.m. Saturday when multiple callers reported the fire in the Foskett Ranch development, according to Whitt. “There were 100-foot flames off the top of the building,” Whitt said Monday in front of the gutted three-story structure. “When I got to the scene, the firefighters had three deck guns, two portable monitors and three hand lines working.” Deck guns are the large water cannons mounted on top of the fire engines and are capable of spraying 1,000 gallons per minute, according to Whitt. Monitors are the portable cousins of deck guns. “We were absolutely maxed out,” Whitt said. “The guys did a really good job. We were able to have three engines on duty that night and that was a big help.” “Our main objective was to knock down the fire and save the surrounding structures,” Whitt added. “They did an outstanding job keeping the damage to a minimum and not letting it spread to the adjacent structures.” The six-unit town house was under construction, with the roof being worked on, Whitt said. The builder, D.R. Horton, had also started putting the stucco on the outside. The building did not have any drywall or firewalls to slow down the spread of the flames and the exterior walls were covered only with a Styrofoam-type material that is used beneath the stucco, according to Whitt. While not standard procedure, necessarily, Whitt said, the Lincoln Fire Department only had one investigator on duty Monday, who would normally handle investigations, but with this size of a fire, the task force was needed. “Lincoln Fire did a remarkable job stopping that fire,” said Placer Hills Fire Chief Ian Gow, who was at the scene Monday morning. “It’s very impressive with all the buildings around it.” According to Whitt, firefighters saved $1.5 million on the left side and $300,000 on the right side. Many nearby residents were evacuated by law enforcement, as the fire could have spread, Whitt said. “It was actually pretty scary,” said nearby resident Michael Storz. Although he wasn’t evacuated, he said many of his neighbors were. “The wind was blowing embers across the street, onto the other condos. Oh my word, it was huge.” Storz said the flames were high, standing at least as high as if the building had had a fourth story that was burning. Gloria Parkinson lives in one of the units across the street from the fire and said she was evacuated. “I was afraid the fire would spread,” Parkinson said. “It was a huge fire. All I saw was a wall of flame.” She added that she thought the fire department did a very good job stopping it from spreading. “This type of fire is unusual in Lincoln, Whitt said, “but the potential for it is always there.” Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at