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Fire destroys three planes

By: Liz Kellar and Cheri March
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A blaze at Atkin Air's hangar at Lincoln Regional Airport Wednesday destroyed three planes and a truck, causing an estimated $2 million in damage. Lincoln Police officers initially responded to a burglar alarm at 1420 Flightline Drive at approximately 10:50 p.m. and discovered heavy smoke coming from a hangar in the back, Lincoln Fire Chief David Whitt said. Two engines from Lincoln Fire Station 34 responded, then called in additional units from California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Rocklin and Roseville. According to Whitt, after firefighters made a forced entry into the hangar, they were able to knock the fire down pretty quickly, within 10 minutes or so. Whitt said three planes and a truck were destroyed in the blaze, adding that he estimated approximately $2 million in damage. The planes probably cost $150,000 to $300,000, so just in aircraft alone you're looking at $650,000 to $700,000 in damage, he said. The roof of the hangar is intact, but there's a lot of smoke and heat damage, and there was a significant amount of parts and electronic equipment that was destroyed. The building was not sprinklered and did not have a fire alarm. The office of Atkin Air, which was inside the hangar, was saved, Whitt said. He added that the truck parked inside the hangar was the point of origin of the fire. Officially, it's undetermined, we are unable to rule out an electrical problem with the vehicle, Whitt said. On Thursday morning, company staff aired out smoke-scented offices and picked up around the charred remains of the planes “ a Seneca, Bonanza and Cessna 206. I think we were fortunate because three of the planes had fuel in them, said Linda Hinch, a charter coordinator for Atkin Air. While the Seneca belongs to Atkin Air, the two other aircraft were being repaired for separate owners, said company owner Kent Atkin. Despite the damage, he said the business is still up and running. We're still operating right now, but it's a little more difficult, Atkin said. We had two charters go out today and training is going on right now. We just need to get the computers back up. The computer system was destroyed and some electricity lost when cables burned, he said. Atkin said he was at a loss as to what sparked the fire. Obviously, the truck burned first, but we don't know why, Atkin said. The fire happened four hours after the truck was put away, so I don't understand how it could have happened. Atkin Air rents its buildings from American River Development.