Budget cuts and fire engine brown-out significant factor in Oak Park blaze

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Sacramento, CA | When a fire truck crew arrived on scene of a house ablaze Thursday afternoon, they had to wait for an engine with water to arrive from a distance.

Thursday afternoon, Sacramento firefighters were called out to a blaze in the Oak Park area. When Truck 6 arrived in three minutes (trucks carry no water) the structure was fully involved with fire. The first engine, Engine 10 (carrying water), arrived in 6-8 minutes; Engine 6 (who likely would have arrived with Truck 6) was browned out due to budget cuts.

Fortunately this was an unoccupied home which had burned a couple of years ago but had not been torn down. Chief Chris Ortiz explained that fire grows exponentially and literally doubles itself every minute. Had this been an occupied home, given the brown-out delayed first in engine with water, the difference of minutes is very significant.

The fire was so burning so hot that surrounding homes, called exposures, had to be protected from radiant heat so they would not catch fire as well.

I asked Chief Ortiz about the City’s “Dangerous Building” organization that is supposed to tear down structures such as this when the fire occurred a couple of years ago. Ortiz stated that he called for “Dangerous Buildings” to respond; his dispatch advised him that “Dangerous Buildings” would not respond. Ortiz stated that he could not divulge the reason.

There were no injuries in this blaze and the cause remains under investigation.

Battalion Chief, Chris Ortiz, talks about the incident…

Defensive 2 Story Structure Fire, June 7, 2012 Oak Park, CA from SacMav Rapid Media on Vimeo.


  • Mark

    Is there no measure to force the owners of these properties to tear down dangerous structures that pose a physical threat to the neighbors and are a blight on the neighborhood?

    • bye bye Sacpress

      Continues to amaze me that the burnt out former dry-cleaning business on Broadway at 5th remains standing. A block from a fire station no less.

      It appears Sacramento is becoming Detroit, lacking the pride to bother to tear down burnt out structures.

    • Mark

      It doesn’t have to be this way.

    • William Burg

      Sounds like maybe we need higher taxes or something.

    • bye bye Sacpress

      We already have higher taxes, so obviously thats not the answer.

      Maybe we could stop funneling our taxes to the pension plans of the select few who are on public employee-extortion train.

  • Kati Garner

    video is not clickable on Safari

  • Good Work Ed !
    Carus Ray Mayor of Oak Park !

    • Maverick

      The guys and gals there did the great work. That incident could have been a whole lot worse. Firefighters could have easily been injured and the adjacent homes could have caught fire. If that same fire would have happened today (Sat) with the very low humidity, high winds and E6 brown-out situation, I think we may have seen a worse situation. I’m not a contractor, I’m definitely not a financial wizard, but I am a former firefighter/engineer… that said, I venture to say that the cost to battle that blaze, risk of life and surrounding property far exceeded the price to demo that structure. Oh….. and it’s still standing.

  • Kati Garner

    Just caught it, Ed. Great job as always!!!

  • “I asked Chief Ortiz about the City’s “Dangerous Building” organization that is supposed to tear down structures such as this when the fire occurred a couple of years ago. Ortiz stated that he called for “Dangerous Buildings” to respond; his dispatch advised him that “Dangerous Buildings” would not respond. Ortiz stated that he could not divulge the reason.”

    Well – I’ll tell you why city Dangerous Buildings did not show up – Because it is in the county – Duh! Someone better inform Mr. Ortiz that while his dept serves this area as part of a contract with the Fruitridge Fire District, city departments do not have such a contract with the district or the county and therefore, city employees don’t have jurisdiction or duty in such an instance.

    It ticks me off when the fire dept spews bad information and points fingers at a another city department, especially when they have no idea what they are talking about. SFD needs to go back to a professional PIO.

    • Thanks SACRES !

      According to KCRA’s reporting, “The complex is located on the corner of 16th and East Nichols avenues. It has caught fire before and was boarded up”

      A quick check of jurisdictional boundaries shows this to be in the unincorporated county…not the city. The specific address, acording to the Assessor’s parcel viewer, is 4120 E Nichols Ave.

      So why didn’t Ortiz just state that? Instead “Ortiz stated that he could not divulge the reason.” What a crock….the fact that this is county property is privileged information?

      Perhaps the author should clarify the situation, now that more complete information is present….that should have been the case from the start.

    • Maverick

      The “author” is and has been working on that and will give an update as soon as possible. 😉

    • Thanks Ed. Here’s a little further info that shows the complexities of our greater regional area and the fact that jurisdictional lines can get very fuzzy with regards to specific responsibilities.

      The Water, Fire and Park Districts are case in point. See the maps attached to this report from
      Sac LAFCO (Sacramento Local Area Formation Commission).


  • Maurice Chaney

    Hi there, my name is Maurice Chaney and I’m the media and communications specialist with the city of Sacramento Community Development Department. Certainly this is an area where services overlap. Incidentally, we did have our code manager out on scene and because it is not within our jurisdiction for code compliance, we were unable to take action.

  • Thanks for clarifying the facts Mr. Chaney! It would ne nice if the “author” would follow-up as promised and clarify the story.

    There are some aspects of municipal services that the city is better equiped to handle and code enforcement and building inspection is one of them. Perhaps the city and county should look at consolodating in these areas and thereby, eliminating this kind of confusion. Police is another one, as SPD spends a lot of time crossing over to the county.

    • Maverick

      The “author” is following up… some times that takes time because the “author” doesn’t control other peoples work schedules. Follow up is in process and updated details will be posted as soon as they are available.

  • Maverick

    UPDATE: We (myself and Cactus Ray, affectionately known as the “Mayor of Oak Park”) went by the site yesterday (Tue) and the structure has been removed. Which ever agency removed it (and I’ll check into who did actually do the work) did a fabulous job; you really can’t even tell the structure was there and the only sign that a fire was there is charring on the common fence.

  • Maverick

    UPDATE: I just received an updated statement from Battalion Chief Ortiz. He stated “Dangerous Buildings was requested, there was no reason why they declined” and “there was no mention of budget”. Ortiz further stated, “the next day, Dangerous Buildings did respond and contacted county code enforcement and the building was demolished at approx 14oohrs.” Chief Ortiz continued, “The end result was that the “Dangerous” building is gone, and no slant should be put on The City’s Dangerous Building section, they do a fine job with the resources they have left.” Ortiz stressed that the real issue is the “Brown Out” situation.


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