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Fire destroys El Dorado Hills home

By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
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Oily rags sitting on a back deck are most likely the cause of a fire that destroyed an El Dorado Hills home Monday afternoon. Fire crews responded to the fire in the 1900 block of Vista Mar Drive just before 2 p.m. June 27. The fire was “fully involved” when crews arrived, said Deputy Chief Jim O’Camb, of the El Dorado Hills Fire Department. “The roof was collapsing when we arrived at the scene and we couldn’t go inside,” he said. Mutual aid was called in with 17 units responding including engines and chief officers from Cameron Park, El Dorado County, Folsom, Rescue and Cal Fire departments. The additional crews were necessary due to the threat of a wildland fire. O’Camb said the fire appeared to have started in the back of the house on a deck and although the investigation into the cause is not 100 percent complete, he said oily rags were most likely the cause. The homeowner had been treating the deck with a stain or other material the day before the fire. When conditions are right, heat and direct sun, the rags can combust, starting a fire. “When someone stains or treats a deck with an oil-based product, they need to dispose of the rags properly. They can put them in a bucket of water or lie them flat on concrete to allow them to (vent) off gas,” O’Camb said. Solar panels from the home, owned by John and Judith Mouritsen according to county records, started several small grass fires. “Pieces of the solar panels were flying through the air and they were molten hot,” O’Camb said. “They started spot fires in the vegetation.” The Vista Mar home is located on a hillside overlooking Folsom Lake and afternoon winds could have easily spread the fire. “There were wildland issues because of the open space and vegetation surrounding the home,” O’Camb said. To their credit, the Mouritsens heeded fire officials warnings and cleared the appropriate amount of “defensible space” around their home, officials said. The homeowners were not home at the time the fire broke out. No one was injured in the blaze that left the home totally destroyed. The homeowners declined to comment for this story. Fire officials were able to save the garage that housed several motorcycles, cars and family photos.