UPDATE: Firefighters say Burney fire caused by escaped campfire at illegal encampment

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 89, 10 a.m.

BURNEY, Calif. — Firefighters have determined that a vegetation fire that threatened the Pit River Casino and numerous homes in Burney last Saturday afternoon was caused by an escaped campfire left burning inside an illegal encampment, CAL FIRE/Shasta Trinity officials have since reported.

No arrests were made after the blaze, which consumed approximately 20.5 acres and forced the evacuations of 40 to 45 residences before firefighters were able to halt the fire’s forward progress, just a few hundred feet short from homes that were threatened.

In an unrelated incident the following day, a man was arrested after he was witnessed and videotaped at the scene of a vegetation fire along SR-299E near Woodman Road in Bella Vista.

The suspect, Paul Jacob Warner, 38, was filmed by a passerby as he came out of the forest line on a bicycle, while holding what appeared to be a large, red gasoline canister.

He was arrested just a short distance from the blaze and was later booked into Shasta County Jail in Redding on suspicion of arson to forest land and arson during a state of emergency. He remains in custody in lieu of $100,000 bail or bond.

UPDATED: Sunday, June 6, 10 a.m.

See Original Story, published Saturday, June 5, 2:18 p.m., below.

BURNEY, Calif. — Firefighters who responded to a vegetation fire that tore through Burney’s west end of town yesterday afternoon were successful in stopping the blaze’s forward progress, saving numerous homes that were in the fire’s path.

Saturday afternoon’s fire, which burned an estimated 20.5 acres behind the Pit River Casino, forced the evacuation of around 40 to 45 homes in the Burney Terrace area and came to within a few hundred feet of homes along Bartell Street.


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Initial responding firefighters who were first alerted to the fire around 12:45 p.m. confirmed finding a vegetation fire off Jack Rabbit Flat Road and immediately requested additional resources to the scene.

As resources began flooding into the area, firefighters began an aggressive ground and air attack, which continued for the next several hours.

A Cal Fire helicopter is seen assisting with yesterday’s vegetation blaze that threatened Pit River Casino and forced the immediate evacuation of 40 to 45 homes that were directly in the fire’s path. Debbie Crone photo

At 12:50 p.m., deputies from the Shasta County Sheriff’s Burney Station updated that the fire had “jumped” Burney Creek, and begun burning behind and toward the Pit River Casino, which was eventually evacuated and closed for the afternoon.

Within minutes, sheriff’s officials called for the immediate evacuation of homes in the area of Park Avenue, Bartell Street, Sapphire Road and Galena Circle, and requested that the County’s Code Red phone notifications be activated for the affected homes and neighborhoods.

By 1 p.m., deputies had begun the process of opening Burney High School as a potential Red Cross evacuation center and all subsequent evacuees were directed to the school’s campus.

As deputies began going door to door on Bartell Street, warning them of the immediate, mandatory evacuations, officials began closing down the affected streets, to allow room for the influx of incoming emergency vehicles.

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The call for immediate evacuations triggered SNIPPP (Spay & Neuter Intermountain Pets & Pet Placement) employees and volunteers to begin preparations to assist with any needed animal evacuations. Within minutes of their offer, which was shared exclusively in an SCNS Live Incident Log online, (which can be viewed in its entirety below), the organization had already dispatched the first truck and trailer to the area to evacuate two horses that were stranded at a residence that was directly in the fire’s path.

At 4 p.m., the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office announced that firefighters had slowed much of the fire’s forward progress and that most area residents could return to their homes. However, Bartell Street, which was closest to the still-burning fire, remained under mandatory evacuation for another hour, before those residents were also allowed to return to their homes.

Thanks to firefighters efforts, no homes or other structures were damaged by the blaze.


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About the mandatory evacuations and need to evacuate animals both big and small, SNIPPP Vice-President, Michelle Titus, later told SCNS, “Unfortunately, we’ve had too many fires up here, so being prepared and fast to respond is now second nature.”

“SNIPPP as an organization, and I, as an individual, will always do whatever it takes to help critters and their owners,” she said; adding that the group is always looking for volunteers with vehicles and trailers who can help in such emergencies. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Michelle at (530) 336-6006.

The cause of yesterday’s fire remains under investigation and no further information has been released.

Click below link to view full Live Incident Log as compiled by SCNS.

Original Story: Fire burning behind Pit River Casino – Immediate evacuation orders called for – Red Cross Evac Center at BHS

BURNEY, Calif. — Officials are continuing to battle a swift-moving vegetation fire that erupted behind the Pit River Casino in Burney this afternoon.

Follow the above Live Incident Log or visit Shasta County News Source or SCNS on Facebook for up to the minute details and evacuation orders.

A full article regarding this fire is pending. Please check back.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information becomes available.

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

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 30 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 18 grandchildren.


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