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Grass fire burns 55 acres near Rocklin homes

Lack of weed abatement puts owner in hot seat
By: Lauren Gibbs Gold Country News Service
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When Audra Felahy and her husband Volki Felahy of Rocklin drove home from work Monday evening, they were met with an unexpected surprise — a grass fire behind their home. At 4:52 p.m. Monday, a wind-driven grass fire erupted on the high ridge between Argonaut Avenue and Clover Valley Road in Rocklin. Approximately 55 acres burned with no structure damage, according to Rocklin Fire Chief Bill Mikesell. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, he said. The fire was completely contained at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The fire flared up in privately owned property, where owners were given the option to undergo city-provided goat and sheep grazing as a fire prevention method, or to use other traditional methods, Mikesell said. “Our assessments revealed that they had not used traditional methods,” Mikesell said. The property owners had not completed fire prevention by May 31 as requested by the city. Mikesell said when a property owner defaults on their weed abatement, the city comes to the property and completes it and a bill is mailed to the owners. Typically an inspection determines if the property had some form of fire prevention measures. The property is owned by Canada-based Summit Developments, LLC and includes two vacant parcels, according to the fire personnel. Al Johnson, a local representative for Summit Developments, said they were not aware of the fire. “We weren’t aware of it and hadn’t been notified by the fire department,” he said. Johnson said they would take a look to assess the damages. He said he was curious to learn the cause of the fire, as nobody is authorized to be on the property, he said. “Fires start for a whole lot of reasons,” he said. Johnson said that weed abetment is done every year by the city since they elect not to complete it themselves. “We never elect to do it ourselves,” he said. “We always elect for the (city) contractor to do it.” Crews from Roseville, Loomis, Lincoln, South Placer Fire, Placer County Fire and Cal Fire assisted with the blaze. Firefighters spent Monday night at the site, conducting mop up, going from spot fire to spot fire and making final extinguishments, Mikesell said. Although no official evacuations took place, some residents, like the Felahys, were prepared for the worst. Audra Felahy said she packed up pictures, passports and personal documents just in case. When the winds picked up, that’s when she said she became concerned. But never fully evacuated. “It looked like they (firefighters) had it under control,” she said. Two people suffered minor injuries including a knee injury and a head laceration after a fall, but Mikesell said there were no major injuries. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Anyone with information on the fire can contact the Rocklin Fire Department at (916) 625-5300.