Two fires in two days in Dunsmuir

Skye Kinkade and Richard DuPertuis
Smoke pours out of the upstairs window of an apartment at 5950 Dunsmuir Avenue Halloween night.

Dunsmuir/Castella firefighters were kept busy last week putting out two blazes in two days. No one was injured in either incident, though at least three families have been temporarily displaced.

On Halloween night at approximately 9 p.m., firefighters were called to a multi-family, multi structure at 5950 Dunsmuir Avenue, next door to Burger Barn, said Dunsmuir/Castella Fire Department assistant chief Gene Meyer.

The fire started in the living room of Apartment D, an upper floor apartment rented by Dwayne and Melanie O’Connor, who were visiting relatives in a downstairs apartment in the same building. Dwayne said his 17 year old daughter, Nicole McNew, returned home from trick or treating about 9 p.m.

“She said she opened the door and got a face full of smoke,” Dwayne said Friday. “She came running down the stairs screaming, ‘Fire!’” He said when he looked up he saw flames coming out of the living room window.

“When we arrived, the fire had breached the window facing Dunsmuir Avenue,” Meyer said. Also responding via an automatic aid agreement was the Mount Shasta City Fire Department.

Because of the heavy smoke and potential to grow, Meyer said a second alarm was called. The Mount Shasta Fire Protection District and CAL FIRE engines responded.

The fire was extinguished with less than 100 gallons of water, said Meyer, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

All pets were saved from the 5950 apartments except Rico, McNew’s Brazilian parrot.

The second fire was reported at about 10 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, Meyer said, at 5327 Dunsmuir Avenue, near Dunsmuir Inn and Suites.

The fire in the single story, single family residence was an electrical fire which was isolated to the attic, said Meyer.

Resident John Smith said the fire was started by faulty wiring in the attic. “We'd been having problems with the breaker box three or four weeks,” he said. “The power would go out and we couldn't get it to turn back on. The whole house was out.”

Smith said they had the breaker replaced, and everything was fine for about three weeks, but then the problem began happening again.

On the night of the fire at about 9:30 p.m. the power went off and Smith’s wife, Michele, went outside to reset the breaker, he said.

“She came back in and told me she smelled smoke,” said Smith. “I went out and saw smoke and an orange glow coming out of the attic.”

When firefighters arrived on scene, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department had already shut off the home’s main breaker and the occupants were out of the house, Meyer said.

“There was no smoke in the living area... it was contained in the attic. We gained access and quickly distinguished the fire with about 30 gallons of water,” said Meyer.

Smith said he was impressed with the care firefighters took with his belongs. “They did an awesome job,” he said. “They moved all of our stuff to one side of the living room, and they tarped it so it wouldn't get any water on it.”

Because the fire was put out swiftly, only the Mount Shasta City Fire Department and one CAL FIRE engine assisted the Dunsmuir/Castella department, Meyer said.

Both residences will need to be signed off by the building department before they can be inhabited again, Meyer added.

As of Friday afternoon, the two apartments on the top story of 5950 Dunsmuir Avenue were not occupiable, said Julie Iskra from Dunsmuir City Hall. The two downstairs apartments were inspected and clearance has been given.

The Smiths are living at Cave Springs while an electrician rewires the attic. John Smith said he was told the work would be done by Friday, and they hope to move back in by Nov. 12.