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Charcoal ignites shed in El Centro, fire spreads to fence and utility pole

March 29, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

A backyard barbecue yielded more than grilled chicken Wednesday when a fire in a bag of charcoal destroyed a home's shed, fence and overhead utility lines.

After using a charcoal grill in the yard of her 1442 1/2 Brighton Ave. home to grill chicken, an El Centro woman placed a bag of charcoal in a storage shed a few feet from her home, said El Centro Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Petree.

About 45 minutes after the woman was done grilling, her husband noticed the shed was on fire, Petree said.

Investigators think the bag of charcoal somehow ignited and they determined the fire was accidental, Petree said.

The couple did not attempt to extinguish the flames but instead called 911 immediately, Petree said.

By the time firefighters arrived around 1:30 p.m., the flames had risen high enough to burn through overhead utility lines and send sparks flying.

Firefighters approached the fire from the alley that the shed backed up against and controlled the fire in three minutes, Petree said.

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While no injuries were reported, the shed and fence were destroyed and half an oleander tree scorched.

That tree, however, probably saved the couple's home by acting as a barrier between it and the burning shed just a few feet away, firefighters said.

Ironically, a nearby pile of firewood remained only half scorched.

The couple's small home and the larger house in whose back yard the small home sits were untouched by flames.

Petree said the couple estimated the damage at $6,000.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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