Nine homes in West Bishop burned last Friday afternoon, stemming from a fire which broke out at approximately 2:45 p.m. in a home at the end of Fairview Circle.
Fairview Circle is a spur off Watterson Rd. which is a spur off Reata Rd. (a few yards down from the entrance to Hidden Creeks Ranch – horses are pastured behind the neighborhood, which is dotted with a mobile home park as well as modular homes sited on private lots).
The cause of the fire, according to Bishop Fire Chief Joe Dell, is believed to be electrical and started inside a residence at Fairview, before quickly spreading in windy, dry conditions.
A renter in the home apparently discovered the fire after exiting the shower, and called 911.
The renter suffered burns on his feet during his flight, according to Dell.
At Dell’s presentation to Bishop City Council on Monday, he said the first units arrived on scene within seven minutes, and that they had water on the fire within 12 minutes.
Three structures were already fully engulfed when the first units arrived.
They had three engines and two water-tankers on-scene within 20 minutes, but then … ran out of water.
There are no fire hydrants located in the immediate neighborhood.
According to the Bishop Fire Department press release, “Friday’s high winds, along with narrow access areas, propane tank involvement, and a lack of nearby fire hydrants severely hampered firefighting efforts. Firefighters were forced to withdraw from Fairview Circle and had to fight the fire from Watterson Road. Seventeen water tenders made multiple trips to draft sites and fire hydrants to provide enough water to suppress the blaze.
Tumbleweed Lane and Indian Creek Drive were evacuated as the fire spread. These evacuation orders were lifted later in the evening once forward progression of the fire was stopped. The Watterson Road area remained evacuated until mid-afternoon on Saturday as fire crews continued mop-up efforts.”
By then, firefighting crews had given way to local gawkers cruising the neighborhood to survey the damage.
The three homes along Fairview Circle were destroyed, as well as a home on the corner of Fairview and Watterson (above), four homes within the neighboring Mobile Home park and a rental home located next to Fairview Circle on the north side.
Several outbuildings (20) were also destroyed, and four other homes sustained damage.
According to Bishop Fire’s presser, one firefighter suffered smoke inhalation during the Fairview incident, was transported to Northern Inyo Hospital by Symons Emergency Services and released later Friday night after treatment. Some livestock and pets did perish.
The Bishop Fire Department would like to extend a huge thank-you to the numerous agencies that responded from throughout the Eastern Sierra to help fight the Fairview Fire, including Big Pine, Independence, Lone Pine, Olancha Cartago, White Mountain, Chalfant Valley, June Lake, Antelope Valley, Wheeler Crest, Mammoth Lakes, Long Valley, CalFire and the Inyo National Forest. The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Symons Emergency Services, Reach Air Medical Services, the Bishop Police Department, Inyo County Health and Human Services, Mountain Warfare Training Center (Pickel Meadows), the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Indian Creek Mutual Water Company, Bishop Public Works and the American Red Cross also provided assistance during and after the fire.
Additional thanks go to Two Brothers from Italy in Big Pine, which shut down the restaurant to make pizzas that they then donated to the firefighters