Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Thursday, June 20 @ 10:41 a.m.

[UPDATED] Warehouse Fire Makes For Explosive Night at Neighboring Radio Station

A fire at a warehouse on State Street sent a column of smoke over KFUG Community Radio on Wednesday. | Photo courtesy of Amanda Dockter

Update at 1 p.m.:

A fire at a 300-foot-long building on State Street had crews from nearly every agency in the county fighting for almost nine hours, Crescent Fire Protection Battalion Chief Darrin Short said.

Short estimated that about 50 feet of one side of the building was completely involved when he arrived on scene after being called out at about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday. Every department in the county with the exception of Klamath sent engines, water tenders and people.

Short said one primary goal for firefighters was saving some “brand-new ready-to-go” crab pots, but they had to back away when fireworks began exploding.

“The fire was able to get in that space,” he told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Thursday, adding that the rubble was still smoldering when he and his crew stood down at about 7 a.m. “We ended up losing everything.”

Short was getting ready to return to the scene, which is across the street from the Del Norte Transfer Station, to retrieve the fire hose his crew used. He noted at about noon Thursday that firefighters were still dousing hotspots.

“We used all of the hose on three different engines to make a lay from two different hydrants,” he said, adding that crews connected fire hose to a hydrant at the transfer station and to one on Elk Valley Road in front of KFUG Community Radio.

Despite fighting it for almost nine hours, what had been a storage building on State Street was still smoldering Thursday. | Photo courtesy of Bill Steven

Though Short couldn’t say where the fire began or how it started, the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office has opened an investigation “just out of precaution,” Undersheriff Devin Perry said.

Short said trying to figure out how the fire started and where it started will be difficult because of all the water fire personnel used to douse the flames. He said much of the area is covered in sheet metal as well.

According to retired DNSO Cmdr. Bill Steven, the building had been divided into six or seven partitioned areas that are rented by multiple people. Commercial fishermen stored their gear in at least two of the units, Steven said.

Steven estimated that the losses from the fire could include several hundred thousand dollars in crab pots, noting that one crab pot can cost $300.

“And then I saw five or six cars,” he told the Outpost from the scene Thursday. “Who knows what state of repair they were in before the fire, but there were multiple cars — five or six cars — destroyed. I heard one guy maybe had some guns stored in his portion.”

Kyra Seymour, facilities and programs coordinator for the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Building, opened the transfer station at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday to allow crews to access their water source. She described a chaotic mix of law enforcement and fire apparatus.

The explosions were also jarring, she said.

“We have a ginormous mountain of pallets that are free for the taking for the public. They’re raw wood and it’s been dry lately and clouds of sparks were drifting over them,” Seymour said. “I was on my toes ready to call somebody if that should start igniting.”

In addition to the Crescent Fire Protection District, other responding agencies include Fort Dick Fire and Gasquet Fire, Short said. A crew from Pelican Bay State Prison also responded, he said.

Short estimated that there were about 22 or 23 firefighters on scene.


Original Post:

Paul Critz considered evacuating as he and others watched the industrial building behind their Elk Valley Road property go up in flames Wednesday evening.

Critz, who spearheads KFUG Community Radio, said the blaze was about 40 yards from the station. When the fire began there was the usual burning eyes and smoke irritation. Then came exploding propane tanks and fireworks.

“At the very first, while it was still ramping up, it seemed in danger of maybe getting into the trees that separates us from that property, but the lush verdure and the light prevailing breeze kept it at bay,” Critz told the Outpost via Facebook messenger Thursday. “I was also worried about what might have been in there — what might be burning and fuming, and would possibly explode. So we got dressed.”

Multiple agencies responded to the fully involved structure on State Street at about 10:16 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office’s call logs. Responding agencies included Fort Dick Fire and Gasquet Fire, according to Jesse Salisbury, moderator on Facebook’s The Del Norte and Curry County Scanner Feed.

Amanda Dockter, a coordinator at KFUG, said the fire occurred at a gear shed that was several thousand square feet in size. Though she didn’t know the exact dimensions, it was large enough to store multiple cars.

“It was literally on the other side of the fence,” Dockter said. “It was going nuts. It was doing booms all night, and then finally around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. they started sending [fire crews] home and clearing out. It’s still smoldering a bit.”

On Thursday morning, Redwood Voice’s Sebastian Monroe explored the warehouse’s still-smoldering husk. Monroe said he spoke with an “eyewitness renter in that building” who said there were acetylene tanks, fireworks and inflated tires that exploded during the fire.

A warehouse on State Street is a pile of rubble following a structure fire that kept agencies busy for hours Wednesday into Thursday morning. | Photo courtesy of Daniel Braden

Tools are buried in the rubble and the cars housed in the shop have been “rendered into scrap metal by the flames,” Monroe said Thursday.

“I haven’t ever been on the scene of a burn like this, especially so close after it burned,” he wrote in an email. “The blackened crab pots and sheets of corrugated metal made the site look like a wasteland. The sheriff’s office currently has investigators on the scene.”

The Wild Rivers Outpost is waiting to hear from Crescent Fire & Rescue Chief Kevin Carey and from Del Norte County Sheriff Garrett Scott and will provide an update.


© 2024 Lost Coast Communications Contact: