Thursday, July 7, 2022

Massive Fire Destroys Trailers Donated for Betty Kwan Chinn Housing Project

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2022 at 2:34 PM

click to enlarge The trailer fire at the foot of Hilfiker Lane this morning. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The trailer fire at the foot of Hilfiker Lane this morning.

A massive fire at the foot of Hilfiker Lane in Eureka just before 12:30 a.m. today destroyed six modular trailers donated to local philanthropist Betty Kwan Chinn by PG&E for a housing project and damaged another five at the site, all of which will need to be demolished.


According to Humboldt Bay Fire, initial units arrived at the scene to find six of the wood-framed trailers fully engulfed with others being burned by radiant heat prompting the fire to be upgraded to a second alarm response.


The Eureka Police Department was also called in because firefighting efforts were being hindered by people who drove to the site in cars and motorhomes to watch.


The blaze, which Humboldt Bay Fire states “is under investigation but appears to be human-caused as there were no electrical or gas services to any of the trailers,” was brought under control in about an hour, according to a news release.


No one was injured during the incident.


“The trailers will be demolished and removed from the site due to the safety hazard they present,” the HBF release states. “This will not prevent the project from moving forward as the city of Eureka has secured state funding to purchase new trailers for Betty’s housing project at the site. Unfortunately, it won’t allow for the trailers to be donated for reuse as planned. Infrastructure development is planned for the site on the Crawley property in the near future.”


Read the full HBF release below:

At 12:22 A.M. four units from Humboldt Bay Fire were dispatched to a reported structure fire at the Foot of Hilfiker Lane in Eureka. While units were enroute, Humboldt Bay Fire Dispatch received additional reports that multiple large trailers were on fire.


The first arriving Humboldt Bay Fire Engine arrived on scene and found six wood-framed single-wide portable construction type trailers fully involved with fire with additional nearby trailers burning on the outside from radiant heat.


The initial Company Officer requested a second alarm and declared that the fire was a defensive operation. Additional responding units had their access hindered by passers-by in vehicles and motorhomes driving in to watch the operations.


Eureka Police Officers were requested to control traffic to allow access for emergency apparatus only. As additional units arrived, personnel checked the nearby trailers for any occupants. Once the trailers were confirmed unoccupied, multiple master streams were put into place. Fire personnel had the fire controlled within an hour. Pacific Gas and Electric was requested to respond to confirm that the nearby utility poles and electrical lines were not damaged.


The fire is under investigation but appears to be human-caused as there were no electrical or gas services to any of the trailers.


Humboldt Bay Fire would like to thank their allied emergency partners for their assistance: Arcata Fire Protection District, Blue Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Eureka Police Department, City Ambulance, and Pacific Gas and Electric.


There were no injuries to fire personnel or civilians, nor any damage to the residence located next to the trailers or the Humboldt Bay Fire Training Center. Smoke Alarms Save Lives.


The 11 modular trailers were originally donated by PG&E for a Betty Chin Housing project in 2017, six of the 11 trailers were destroyed in the fire and the other 5 were damaged. The trailers will be demolished and removed from the site due to the safety hazard they present. This will not prevent the project from moving forward as the City of Eureka has secured State funding to purchase new trailers for Betty’s housing project at the site. Unfortunately, it won’t allow for the trailers to be donated for reuse as planned. Infrastructure development is planned for the site on the Crawley property in the near future.


For further information regarding the fire incident please call 441-4000; for further information regarding the Betty Chin Housing project please call City Manager Miles Slattery at 441-4184.


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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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