Citizens’ quick response helps quell Johnson Park house fire

JOHNSON PARK, Calif. — Fire officials today are crediting Johnson Park area residents with helping to extinguish a residential structure fire that displaced a family living at the home that burned early Tuesday morning, July 28.

The fire, which officials say was likely caused by a cigarette discarded into a planter on the home’s front porch, happened on the 38000 block of Whaley Dr., a small cul-de-sac west of Sonoma St. and north of SR-299E.


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Burney Fire Protection District, Cal Fire-Shasta, and Shasta County Volunteers from Cassel Fire Company were first alerted to the blaze at 2:29 a.m., Burney Fire Protection District Chief Monte Keady told SCNS this afternoon.

“As the responders arrived, very little flames could be seen because neighbors and residents had already worked to extinguish much of the fire with a garden hose,” said Keady.

Fire crews continue to work at the scene of a residential structure blaze that damaged a Johnson Park home and displaced a family from the residence. Darlene Corey Rhodes image

Firefighters made an aggressive attack on the remaining flames while ensuring the fire did not extend to other nearby homes; “and quickly positioned hoses between the fire and the un-burned portions of the building,” explained Keady.

Although firefighters managed to quickly knock down the visible flames, smoke continued pouring from the home; at which time fire crews armed with pike poles and power saws uncovered a hidden fire burning within the home’s attic and walls.

According to Keady, thanks to the citizen’s quick intervention in battling the blaze and due to firefighter’s quick response to the scene, damage to the home was limited primarily to the structure’s front porch, attic, and portions of the front facing interior rooms. 

“There was also slight smoke damage throughout the home, with moderate damage to the front porch area,” continued Keady.

The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damage to the home and family’s personal belongings. Burney Fire Protection District photo

Burney Fire Protection District placed the pre-incident value of the structure at $150,000, and said the blaze caused an estimated $20,000 in damage to the residence and an additional $30,000 damage to the victims’ personal belongings.

“There were no injuries; however, the family was displaced as a result of the fire,” reported Keady.  

Although their initial investigation revealed the fire was likely started by the discarded cigarette, the fire remains under investigation.

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Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.