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Firefighters from 3 agencies fight fire at under-construction Bonsall home

Karen Ossenfort

Special to the Village News

North County Fire Protection District responded to the scene of a structure fire located in the 4200 block of Paso Del Lagos in Bonsall Thursday night, June 10.

The call first came in at 10:42 p.m. North County Fire Protection District spokesman Capt. John Choi said.

Firefighters arrived at the location to find the house, which was under construction fully involved, Choi said.

The homeowners and their two dogs were accounted for.

Choi said that the department faced some unique challenges fighting the blaze.

"We had a couple of significant challenges that this house fire created," he said, adding that the fire had spread into the attic. "So it was across the entire attic, burning across the joists and the rafters which made the area unstable."

Choi said the fact that the roof was metal also created issues for firefighters.

"If it's a metal roof there is no cutting an oval in it to make entry, there is no going on the roof and there is no operation that will penetrate the roof," he said. "The conditions of the fire made it very unstable for crews to go inside.

"We determined the safest way to attack this fire was from a defensive posture. Fighting the fire from the outside of the structure" Choi said.

"The best strategy was to perform a controlled burn down of the structure and to protect the exposures. It was unsafe to enter due to the fire damage of the unprotected and exposed wood; the fire had spread throughout the house; and the attic space was compromised with that metal roof. All that made it unsafe to extinguish from the interior and we had to extinguish from the exterior," he said.

"We did a full burn down of the structure so that way the roof would collapse inward and give us access to all the hidden spaces of the fire," Choi said. "Otherwise we wouldn't have been able to fully extinguish this fire."

Firefighters also kept the structure fire from spreading to nearby vegetation.

In all, three NCFPD engines, the NCFPD Battalion Chief, the NCFPD Fire Marshall, the NCFPD Fire Chief, one Vista Fire Department Engine and Rescue Ambulance, two Oceanside Fire Department engines, and a Light and Air unit from San Diego City Fire Department were all on scene.

The Light and Air unit was there to provide lights to the scene and to also replenish air tanks that fire crews had to wear.

Choi explained that materials used in buildings are highly toxic as they burn, so even though fire fighters did not enter the structure, the fumes from burning materials was toxic, so they all wore masks and tanks.

Fire crews will take turns throughout the day watching the fire and knocking down any hot spots, Choi said.

"It will be a physically intensive day of pulling and moving the debris around and watering it down," the spokesman said.

Cause of the fire could not be determined because of the metal roof collapse.

According to a North County Fire Protection District spokesman, fire crews spent the immediately following day at the site, laboriously pulling and pushing, and water spraying the debris field under the huge roof, to stop the fire and smoldering debris. They secured the perimeter and edges, and deep under the metal roof. However, places that were more difficult to reach, continue to smolder. Firefighters did not expect those areas to reignite and spread.

The NCFPD spokesman said that because of the roof collapse over the debris field, the Fire Marshall cannot determine the exact cause of the fire.

A source said it more than likely started somewhere in the kitchen. The home was under construction. It also was a rebuild from the Lilac Fire of recent years, according to a source.

The NCFPD spokesman said insurance investigators were on site recently.


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