Recently, Plumas County and neighboring Lassen County have been plagued with multiple structure fires, the latest causing extensive smoke damage. Young Sing restaurant was only saved because citizens saw smoke coming from the building and firefighters were able to get to the scene before the building was engulfed in flames.
Unfortunately, a much-liked employee of the city of Susanville, Chivon Nelson, did not survive after a fire consumed the mobile home she and her fiance and his children and brother were living in out in Standish. While the actual fire investigation is still ongoing, stories of the early morning May 21 blaze indicate Nelson was instrumental in saving the lives of two small children and her fiance, Jim Shively.
Nelson’s death reminds us that fire and the ensuing smoke can kill. It also reminds us to take the time to make sure our homes and businesses are as safe as they can be from fire. Make sure smoke alarms work. Make an escape route and practice it. Know how to work fire extinguishers and know where they are. Homes should also have a fire extinguisher near furnaces, water heaters and kitchens. They stop working if not used after a period of time and need to be refilled if used. Don’t use water on grease fires; have baking soda or salt handy in a kitchen instead.
Besides the smoke fire at Young Sing, the Teriyaki House and Black Bear Diner also had kitchen fires in the last year. Unfortunately, those restaurants had to temporarily close their doors. There was also a house fire in Westwood and another in Standish. Fortunately, no one was home in those fires.
Plumas County experienced an arson fire May 21 with flames so high and hot they almost reached high utility wires. The house had been empty for two years. One has to wonder if the alleged arsonist knew he or she was putting firefighters’ lives in danger. Last year the Quincy Volunteer Fire Department lost Capt. Bill Hopman after he suffered a heart attack responding to an accidental chimney fire.
Susanville Fire Chief Ted Friedline is asking every restaurant, business and homeowner to be aware of fire and to take extra time to turn off appliances, keep combustibles away from heat sources, have suspect wiring checked out and chimneys inspected and cleaned. All these can make a difference and possibly save the life of a loved one.