Trailer Burned to the Ground in 10 Minutes Flat

By RHONDA BIGOVICH, TRT Contributing Writer

Three fires broke out on Easter weekend, two structure fires and one wildland small brush fire.

On April 18, 2014, Hank Alameda’s trailer caught fire and was incinerated nearly instantly. At approximately 2:30 pm, a trailer was reported to be on fire fully engulfed in black smoke, and the sounds of minor explosions sounded in the middle of down town Hoopa.

The Hoopa Volunteer Fire Department was unable to save it.

Spectators pulled over to watch. Many thought they had heard bullets firing from the heat, but volunteer firefighter Duffy Mott said, “Explosions can come from anything sealed.”

“We are still unsure if the fire was caused by arson,” Mott said.

On April 19, a second fire was accidently lit at Gwen Van Pelt’s home on the south end of Hoopa. The homeowners were burning paper in their yard and the fire got away from them.

Hoopa Wildland Fire Department was called and extinguished the blaze before it took off on an upward slope.

A third fire on Easter Sunday consumed Hoopa residents Nicole and Joe McGinnis’ trailer. Within one hour it burned to the ground. The fire is being investigated as arson.

Threats were made against the house just days before it burned. Videos of the threats circulated on social media before the incident occurred.

Amos Pole, Volunteer Fire Chief, said, “If someone threatens to burn your home down, you should make the proper authorities aware to help bring validity to your claims.”

More than 40 percent of the structure fires in the Hoopa Valley are caused by arson.

Pole said, on a lot of their fires, they cannot prove a fire was a result of arson because evidence or an eye witness is needed.

He strongly suggests keeping guard animals on your property, install flood lights, and if possible install a camera system where people in your yard can be identified.

Property owners are also encouraged to clear brush up to 100 feet around their structures to help reduce the risk of catastrophic fire.

Mott said that a single wide trailer will burn to the ground in 10 minutes, and a double wide takes a little longer.

“We are a Volunteer crew, and we volunteer our time to protect our community,” Pole said.

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May 13th, 2014

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