Fire burns in shed

Fire Captain Dan Munsey works to pry open a burning metal shed at a home in Morongo Valley. Munsey and several other firefighters extinguished the blaze quickly before it could spread to a nearby home and vegetation.

MORONGO VALLEY — Several fire crews worked quickly Wednesday afternoon to stop the spread of a small brush fire that ignited in the back yard of a Morongo Valley home.

Emergency responders received a call of a fire at the 50600 block of Twentynine Palms Highway, near Big Morongo Canyon Road at 2:17 p.m.

A man doing yard cleanup work at the property used an acetylene torch to dismantle a water tank, causing sparks to ignite a 25-square foot area, according to Captain Chris Nichols of the Morongo Valley Fire Department.

Nichols said sparks from the torch spread to a lumber pile and then to a shed and two older model vehicles on the property.

“The party involved attempted to take action with a five gallon bucket of water but that was not effective,” Nichols said. “Numerous passers-by called 911.”

The unoccupied home on the property was not damaged, but the two vehicles and the shed were considered a total loss. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters from the Morongo Valley station were the first to arrive on scene and used a water tender truck to extinguish the flames. They were followed by a quick response from CalFire, San Bernardino County Fire Department and Joshua Tree National Park.

Nichols cited eight mile per hour gusts out of the south that fire crews remained mindful of.

“Our concern was the vegetation to the north and a nearby house. The aggressive initial attack by the first arriving engine prevented it from spreading to the nearby vegetation,” he said.

Morongo Valley is considered a State Responsibility Area, which means CalFire, the state’s fire agency, is charged with responding to that area. Nichols noted that SRAs require a permit before anyone can operate tools like a blow torch or saw, which create a heat source.

Wednesday was considered a high fire danger day, according to Nichols, who advised caution from residents, especially during the dry, summer season.

“People need to use good judgment and use some common sense. Any little bit of fire can create a very significant fire,” Nichols said. “That fire had the potential to be very large and probably destroy some homes and do some major damage. Our attack was very effective.”

Reporter Jimmy Biggerstaff contributed to this story

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