The 100-year old redwood home of third-generation Yorkville resident Tommy Burger and his wife, Bev, was burned to the ground by a fast-moving fire that broke out at 3:30 Monday afternoon.
The fire apparently started when the contents of a newly filled propane tank, exposed to the sun, expanded, venting its flammable excess towards a nearby hot water heater. The heater’s pilot light ignited the invisible propane emissions, causing their tank to explode. Two adjacent propane tanks soon erupted, and all three sent flames billowing towards the Burger home.
Mr. Burger was walking towards the house when he heard the first explosion. He yelled to his wife Bev to get out and; as she ran into the yard, Mr. Burger ran as far inside the burning house as the flames would allow, hoping to save what he could from the fire. Unfortunately, the force of the explosion had enveloped the entire structure in flame, and Mr. Burger, now in his early 70’s, who had been born in the rambling old ranch house, was unable to save any of its contents. He was later treated at the Ukiah Valley Medical Center for second degree burns to his feet and ankles. Mrs. Burger was unharmed.
Four outbuildings were also destroyed, as were two trailers and a pick-up truck. Fueled by propane, rolling flames burned some four acres of brush surrounding the house before they were brought under control by CDF air and ground crews backed up by Anderson Valley’s volunteer firefighters. It took their combined forces some ninety minutes to extinguish the blaze, which threatened briefly to spread to the tinder dry hills southeast of the Burger place.
Firefighters spent the rest of the afternoon and much of the evening mopping up the blaze’s smoldering remains.
Boonville fire chief Colin Wilson singled out Guido Pronsolino, who lives nearby, for promptly appearing on scene with his own water tender, supplementing the first fire trucks with a crucial supply of water. Mr. Pronsolino had happened to be driving past the Burger ranch when the fire erupted.
The Burgers have lost everything — three generations of accumulated farm equipment and family heirlooms.
The Yorkville Community Benefit Association will be coordinating assistance to Mr. Mrs. Burger. They are staying with their son Lex Burger across the road from their ranch.
Labor Day Monday’s Yorkville Ice Cream Social will include an opportunity to contribute to the Burger family’s recovery. Donations can also be sent to YCBA, Box 222, Yorkville 95494.