By Patric Hedlund
Firefighters struggled with fire, ice and a treacherous mountain road shortly after 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8 when they tried to rush to a burning structure in the 7600 block of Digier Road in Lebec. They found themselves in an active snowstorm trying to navigate a high, narrow, unpaved road with no guard rails and a drop in some areas of 1,000 feet. Four-wheel drive was essential, "and sometimes even that isn’t enough," said neighbor Arthur Vendegaart, who has stories about rolling trucks on that road.
Fire crews found a two-story house engulfed in smoke and flames. All occupants and pets were safely outside when crews arrived. Six engines responded from Los Angeles and Kern Counties, with two patrol trucks, a water tender and 17 personnel. Witness Jeff Zimmerman said the house was burned to the ground within 30 minutes. He added that there was a limited water supply at the site. "We’re on wells and storage tanks up here," Vandegaart said. The home was destroyed completely. The fire is still under investigation. "This is the second time in 5 years a house has burned down here in the middle of a snowstorm," the neighbor said. "The first one was a very nice new home that burned because of an electrical short."
Vandegaart said the owners rebuilt right away: "It is a serene canyon, a beautiful place to live."
This is part of the February 15, 2013 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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