Two recent fires in East Carbon raise questions about causes
East Carbon and Sunnyside fire officials subdued a fast burning brush fire near the East Carbon walking trail late Tuesday afternoon, stopping the blaze from damaging residential property a mere 50 feet from the path.
Only a few days earlier, on April 29, virtually the same crew responded to and doused a vehicle fire in Sunnyside, which also threatened several homes in the area. At this time, investigators are reporting that the fires do not appear to be linked. However, the proximity of the residential blazes has the east county communities and their public safety officials on alert.
According to firefighters on scene, the May 3 fire erupted just after 4:30 p.m. and quickly spread from small bushes along the East Carbon walking trail to larger trees in the area.
Because the walking path which runs along Grassy Trail Drive does border one of the city's larger residential areas, the growing fire called for swift action from firefighters on scene.
"This fire was burning hot and heavy only 50 feet from people's homes," said East Carbon firefighter and city council member James Wayman. "Our department did a great job putting this fire down fast."
While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, officials on scene reported seeing several children flea the area just as the fire began. Lead investigator and East Carbon City Police Officer Kelsey Shumway reported Wednesday afternoon that she was still waiting for a statement from the fire's closest eye witness.
The officer did confirm that several children where seen leaving the walking trail area just as the fire began.
After quelling the blaze, local firefighters chopped down several large trees in the area positively eliminate the possibility of a second fire.
"We often pay special attention to specific fuel, such as large trees when we are putting out a fire in wooded areas," said Sunnyside Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Curtis. "It is important to make sure that the fire has no chance to re-ignite."
This walking trail fire marks the second time in a week that local crews were forced to battle substantial fire within the East Carbon and Sunnyside city limits.
According to Curtis, local fire crews were dispatched at approximately 12:20 a.m. on April 29 to a vehicle fire at 201 Circle Way in Sunnyside.
"When we arrived, the vehicle, a 1987 Chevy Pickup, was fully engulfed in flames and we concentrated our efforts on making sure that the fire did not gain access to any fuel which would have allowed it to spread toward homes in the area," explained Curtis.
According to the assistant chief, the vehicle's owner, Johnny Maderra of Sunnyside, immediately claimed that arson due to a prior personal conflict was the cause of the blaze.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Deputy State Fire Marshall Troy Mills reported that the cause of the fire was undermined, neither refuting or confirming the owner's claim of arson.
"A full report will be coming forward sometime next week," said Mills. "But at this time, our findings indicate an undermined cause for this vehicle fire."