Saturday, June 22, 2024

Lessons from fire

by By Larry Wilson
| January 5, 2023 7:00 AM

Another house fire! This week the nearly new Barge home at the junction of the North Fork Road and Moose Creek Road was severely damaged by a fire which started in an upstairs wall and spread into the attic.

Luckily, the family was downstairs having dinner and they were able to confine the fire until fire trucks arrived. Even so, fire in the attic damaged rafters and the roof will probably have to be replaced. There was also damage to the upstairs, but the main floor was mostly undamaged except for soot and the sour smell. Firemen later gave oxygen to the family to mitigate any smoke inhalation and best of all, no one was hurt and the home can be repaired.

As usual on the North Fork dozens of friends and neighbors arrived the next day to assist in cleanup and secure the house for the winter. Likely repairs will have to wait until spring and the family will live in their old cabin on the property as they did while building the new home.

Fire is the most common cause of loss on North Fork. I can recall multiple home fires over the years plus the losses from the Red Bench and Wedge Fires. Due to the lack of a local fire department, insurance is not easy to obtain and can be expensive. Some insurance companies will not cover North Fork property at all if it is the only house owned by a full-time resident.

My cabin is insured because the company also covers my house in town and my vehicles. This makes it all the more critical that homeowners do everything they can to protect their buildings.

First, you need to protect the lane into your house and around the house. In a wildfire, firefighters will work to protect your house and buildings if they can safely drive trucks in and have a turnaround so they can get out.

You also need to protect the area around the house. For advice on how to do this attend the NFLA Firewise meetings in the summer or contact Lynn Ogle for a free assessment of your property.

Finally, keep your chimney clean and keep flammable materials away from propane and electric heaters. Other than wildfires, no fire trucks can reach your property in time to save the house once a fire starts. It is up to you to do what you can to protect your property. Because the Barges were at home and had water and tools and knew what to do they saved their home.