Fire in Ettersburg Destroys Building After Likely Propane Explosion

The shed was entirely engulfed when firefighters arrived on the scene.

The shed was entirely engulfed when firefighters arrived on the scene. [Photo by Cal Fire Division Chief Marty Hobbs]

At 7:08 this morning, Cal Fire received a report of an explosion followed by fire near Ettersburg on the former Wolf Ranch. By the time crews arrived on scene the building was completely engulfed and flames were spreading into the wildland.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire “a little shy of a quarter acre,” according to Cal Fire Division Chief Marty Hobbs.

He said the explosion was “consistent with a propane tank” exploding and the building was consistent with a marijuana drying shed. “There were propane heaters and some fans,” he explained. And the building was small –about 20x 40 foot.

A large Madrone tree about 5 foot in diameter is still a hazard, Hobbs explained so a tree faller is being brought in to drop it. The faller will be arriving by helicopter and landing on the property, he added.

Cal Fire, Telegraph Ridge Fire, and Briceland Fire responded to the incident.



  • The tree faller is going to be flown in by helicopter! That’s going to be expensive!

    • My exact thoughts

    • Use it or lose it I guess, make it fun CA has very deep pockets.

    • It’s what they do. In the early nineties I did a survey project in the Routt National Forest locating boundaries of old mining claims for the Forest Service. We stumbled onto a old 55 gal. drum of diesel fuel and reported it to the main office in Steamboat. Wow, what a crap tsunami I set in motion. They sent a team from Denver, in a helicopter, to examine the barrel. Conclusion by this crack team of bureaucrats? Methods for removal must be established. Methods for removal???? How about I drive up with eleven 5 gal. cans and a rotary hand pump, load it up in the green rig, drive it back, and properly dispose of it. I won’t waste your time, or mine, listing the cascade of events that preceded its eventual disposal.

  • That is one way to dry out your weeds.

    • All that work wonder who the dumbass is for using a propane heater in a building. Either saved the future life of a knucklehead or possible future CO2 poisoning cannidate.

      • That’s how literally everyone dries there stuff.

        • Not bright people :Propane wet heat

          • Your right it is. Still have never heard anyone say they have a wood stove in there drying shed.

            • People have wood stoves in their drying sheds (for decades).

              • Wood heat is the best, but it’s dangerous for quality because as fire dies down, if there is an exhaust fan, it can suck the air down the wrong way and you end up with bacon weed. But it still beats this guys weed. Bummer harvest!

                • Never have had a comment that made me laugh as much as as yours Emily! I’m not saying wood stove wouldn’t be a better option I was saying that I know of zero people that have a wood stove in there drying shed. So I want to congratulate the 2% of growers in humboldt that do. Thanks for making humboldt world renowned for its herb. You 2% with wood stoves are really holding it down for the rest of us.

  • Was burning some brush today and call it quites after a half hour. Didn’t feel right with warm temps and wind. Be safe everybody

  • Cal-Fires “C” fallers the ones that can fall trees this large in diameter are usually part of the Helitack crew and would typically travel by copter in order to keep the helitack resource available if it is needed for an incident in the Humboldt-Del Norte Ranger unit or a neighboring unit such as Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity, Butte or Tehema-Glen. To take a resource like this out of service for hours so the Captain can drive there and back from Kneeland or Rhonerville would be irresponsible if a large late season uncident occurred.

  • Oh my aching insurance rates.

  • To fell means “to cause to fall” or “to bring down by striking or cutting.” Its past tense is “felled.” So when you cut down a tree, felling is what you do and falling is what the tree does. Everyone seems to be in accord up until now. But when it comes to forming the agent-noun from the verb, the wires seem to get crossed. My old Merriam-Webster has no separate entry for “feller,” but lists “feller” as the agent-noun under the entry for the verb “fell” – one who fells. It does not list “faller” either by itself or under “fall.” So, prescriptivism seems to favor “feller” as the noun for a person who cuts down trees. Yet there seems to be clear descriptive preference for “tree faller” over “tree feller,” at least here in the Pacific Northwest.
    Perhaps “feller” is instinctively avoided by some because it sounds like a dialectal pronunciation of “fellow” in some parts of the country. Which would you use?

    • Thank you. I often resist these discussions because no one else seems to appreciate the dive into semantics…
      People really don’t like to think, I guess.

    • Thank you, very nice to know. For me, the “fellow” (if male) is causing the tree to fall, so “tree faller” is ok (even tho spell check does not like it) — and it has the added advantage of being androgynous, which should make the PC crowd happy. Best wold be to call “Way with Words” and let them play with it on air.

    • How about them guys are going to knock the ^%%$#@*& tree down.

    • political moderate

      Typical that growers would be hung up arguing semantics of fell, felled, and fellers. For God sakes people an illegal drug operation exploded risking valuable resources and wildfire threat. All growers are are abusers of harder drugs too just look at photos of rancho bust . that is what a typical grow scene is like. Opportunistic tweaks. Get a life go out and vote.

      • its typical that trolls have no idea what they are talking about.
        this probably won’t go well with you. “Breaking news – A federal jury has ruled against a Colorado couple who claimed that a marijuana growing operation hurt the value of their property with sweeping mountain views.”

        • political moderate

          Lmfao. That’s your proof that marihuana is harmless? Just look around you see what the power of the almighty drug has done. Gateway to poverty, crime, meth and heroine.

          • It’s made my life great, and allowed me to be a hands on parent while raising an amazingly well adjusted daughter, who just went off to UC this year. It’s given me a great life, and I give back to the community where I live and have always paid my taxes. And, I vote, every time.

      • Standard scummy grower behavior I’m afraid

      • are are
        You need to edit your posts and never ever use cannabis as a medicine NO MATTER WHAT.

    • I hug my trees before I fell. So, I guess you can say I am a tree hugging feller.

    • I could be a fart smelle – a smart feller, and say I use either, but feller is correct.

      Around here is the only place I’ve heard “faller” used, even by the fellers that should know better, the fellers.

      • LOL…Faller is perfectly acceptable.

        There are books like “The Tree Faller’s Manual” and places like the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls them fallers. In B.C., one gets a Faller Certification.

        Also, a dear friend who was a faller in Humboldt would get a chuckle out this conversation.

        • haha those funny Canadians.

          Faller Certification

          In British Columbia, all manual tree fallers in forestry operations must be certified. Falling trees by hand requires highly specialized skills and a commitment to working safely every day. Fallers need to be aware of physical hazards, the dangers of fatigue and stress, and the exacting requirements of meeting production demands. Hand falling is not for everyone; however, for those who are up to the challenge, it is a rewarding and satisfying profession.

          There are two paths to becoming certified as a faller with the BC Forest Safety Council:

          • I know! I looked up “faller” to see if it was common and came across that.

            I’d never heard them celled “fellers”, ever. I grew up in these woods and knew a number of fallers.

    • Flannery O’Connor

      “Feller” is best because it sounds like fellow. Whose gonna fell that tree that’s fallow for a falling? How about that feller over there? He looks like he won’t falter but if he does he’ll own up to the fault.

    • Sawyer

      • a sawyer is the one that mills wood

        Sawyer is an occupational term referring to someone who saws wood, particularly using a pit saw either in a saw pit or with the log on trestles above ground or operates a sawmill.

  • political moderate

    But hey it’s all good in the name of marijuana. Instead of shame for waste of resources, wildfire threat, insurance rates, etc it’s all good. Could have been a meth lab too let’s wait for final report.

  • One more illegal action that could have started a fire a fire that spread luckily they caught it in time haven’t we had enough of this it needs to stop and I’m not sure what it’s going to take to stop it but if it doesn’t this it’s going down the tubes my family lived here for four generations always been proud of this County but not anymore the crime that’s here is just ridiculous and the police keep trying to stop it and the da and the courts just letting them out so it’s time for people to step up and say no to this

  • Telegraph RidgeFPD Chief

    Just got home from the fire.
    Telegraph Ridge Fire responded with our new (measure Z) pumper 5539, and quick attack 5547.; Briceland Fire sent a water tender (thanks Briceland); CAL Fire sent two engines and a CAL fire inmate crew. The building that burned was on top of a small densely wooded hill. Because it was early morning, humidity was up, so it didn’t spread far into the wild land, although there were a couple of spot fires down the hill.
    A very large madrone tree with multiple trunks was burning high up and had the potential to spread to other trees. Bringing the felling crew in quickly, by air, was the right thing to do. If we waited for them to drive there, the fire may have spread further.
    Telegraph Ridge and Briceland are both volunteer fire departments.
    Please remember to support them.

    • i would support them if it was a separate issue. please take some of your time to write a proposition for tax funding only for fire departments. thank you for your time. i also like how you call them a “felling crew” instead of a falling crew (another good argument for feller not faller)

    • Dear Telegraph RidgeFPD Chief, I’d like to know why are all the trees in the gully by the Ettersburg fire station being felled? Are you planning to fill that in and make a wider driveway? That would make sense and be the only logical reason I can see for such a massacre.

  • Why no cannabis tag kym?

    • The Cannabis section is directed to those readers interested in cannabis (This isn’t an attempt to hide anything. Searching marijuana will make this post show up.) The story just didn’t seem primarily about cannabis and it hasn’t been proven to be about cannabis –just consistent with marijuana drying. Also, when tagged with cannabis and news, it will show in both sections and I’d rather my front page didn’t show the same story twice. I do it occasionally if I think it is appropriate

  • 5 foot madrone? “drools” premium firewood forever.

    But why is it our responsibility to fly in a man to cut that tree down? Private property isn’t it?

    • its election time.

    • The fire is the responsibility of the persons whose mistake caused it. They get the bill for any government resources used like the faller and copter to get them there.

      • you are incorrect. it has to be arson and the arsonist has to be caught. this is no different than someone overloading an electrical outlet.

        • correct and we offer rescue for free too

        • local observer you are actually incorrect on this point it doesn’t have to be arson. Cal-Fire can recover the costs of suppression and pay the volunteer fire departments if their service is more than 4 hours from the property owner tenant or whoever is found to be responsible for the ignition. Just to be factual so you know

          • wow! good to know. when does the clock start? after the fire department gets there or four hours after the fire department gets there? or what should i know. so if they stand around two hours after the fire is out do i pay for that? or do you have to be found negligent? because my friend started a signal fire and it started a forest fire but it was ok because the helicopter to save him spread it, so he might not have been negligent, is that why he didnt have to pay for it?

            • Here is your answer to the time question Volunteer Fire Department response for a wildland fire in the SRA (state responsiblity area) in their normal response area or adjacent is considered automatic or mutual aid for the first 4 hours from tome of intial dispatch and response. After 4 hours it is assistance by hire according to the annual contract the individual Volunteer (or Paid) Fire department has with Cal-Fire and the State of California. Cal-Fire decides whether to bill for fire suppression or not based on a complex list of factors including but not limited to cause of ignition and/or negligence

    • 5 foot diameter madrone? Drool… I’m thinking you might have some boards in there. Beautiful warm grain. Makes great flooring, cabinets, even furniture. Madrone is a most beautiful tree AND wood….and great firewood too!

    • Private property has nothing to do with it. If Cal Fire was restricted to working on state lands, and the US Forest Service was restricted to working on Federal lands (it sounds like this is what you’re suggesting), there’d be a whole lot more bare foundations and crispy corpses around here, not to mention “pre-smoked weed.” I get the impression that most folks are fine with paying for professional fire protection. Personally, I think it’s a shame that volunteers are needed to hold down the fort until the pros can get there. These selfless individuals are deserving of compensation as well to endure the sacrifices and risks they do to help keep their neighbors safe and housed.
      Fire managers have a tough job to balance cost effectiveness with getting the job done as quickly as possible. I suspect that if the burning madrone caused a spot fire that made a run towards your house (a likely scenario) you’d be complaining about why they didn’t do something about it quicker.
      Disclaimer: I’ve been a wildland firefighter since 1981, the last 22 of those as a tree faller contracting with the state and feds. So yes, I’m biased; but I also know of which I speak.

  • I speak for the “large Madrone tree about 5 feet in diameter.”
    Another drug related death. What a shame. And the shame will, no doubt, be compounded by the narrow-minded, short-sighted, self-serving avarice of the mighty tree’s human “owner.”
    Oh, to be bucked up, split, and sold to rich people at $400 a cord to keep their sorry arses warm for one winter.
    Better it would be to 1.) add an “enhancement” to whatever punishment comes to the careless weed dryer; 2.) allow the tree to continue living for the rest of its days within an area wherein no human activity was allowed – none; 3.) allow the mighty tree to lie in repose where it eventually will lie down, and remain undisturbed by human activity until the countless generations of fungi, invertebrates, worms, voles, bluejays, squirrels, and all my relations (oh, all except the two-legged…) have been nourished and protected, and increased, and deceased, all within the selflessly recycling richness of the Mighty Madrone.
    And then ? Hey, I don’t know, Bro. It just seems senseless that the Mighty Madrone gotta go down for a lousy pound of weed.
    Oh, thanks CalFire, Teley Ridge, and Briceland Fire. You did what you had to do, and probably done it well. I give thanks that you all made it home.

    • hahaha this has to be a joke right? did you forget to mention the scream from the tree?

      • I sure hope it’s a joke. Otherwise the writer is seriously deluded if he thinks only *rich people* use wood as a source for heat. Sorry but like many other people in rural areas we rely on a wood heating stove to heat the house in the winter. Hey as long as we are anthropomorphizing said tree, maybe it is happy to sacrifice it’s life so humans and their domestic animals can keep warm in the winter. Thank you, tree, for your concern for the universal good.

  • Great job firefighters ❤️ I started at telegraph ridge fire company. Much love!

  • Should have been abated. Obvious grow from the county road. Smell it from the county road. New roads, new tanks, now a new drying shed.

  • What a crying shame I hope they get in trouble for the rest of the things that they’re

    • “What a crying shame I hope they get in trouble for the rest of the things that they’re”…innocent of until proven guilty.


  • There is a lot of STUPID people out there. High Heat, Dry weed, No doubt those people were high also.

  • Like tax payer said please take the time to write a new measure for the fire fighters and you’ll gladly have the support and votes of me and mines around me!!!! Thank you firefighters you are appreciated much,just other agencies on the ticket with you on o aren’t and don’t deserve the support of the people!!!!!

    • I would definitely like to see funding for our volunteer fire departments. Every volunteer department I can think of could use updated equipment, building maintenance, and such. I wouldn’t have been so opposed to the fire fee we had to pay if it actually went to our local men and women who put their lives on the line to help our communities.

    • thank you for your input. i think we should all have life saving resources but do we need to vote on everything in one measure

  • mr heaters and propane tanks inside are a bad idea

  • Propane PSA. It is no secret that propane heat is pretty much standard issue for dry sheds. That being said often times tanks and mr heater attachments are stored all year for seasonal use. After a few years the rubber grommets on the female part of the tank as well as the male part of the heater can crack or dry rot. If both are shot the result can be a slow propane leak which can obviously be extremely dangerous. I’m not saying this is how this fire was started but it happens.

  • Wow, we had a real BLEVE in the neighborhood and all anyone can talk about is weed? I came here to get more info on the propane tank/s. Did no one investigate? An explosion is a serious thing. You can’t just assume it was a BLEVE as likely as that may be. I’d love anymore news about an investigation. There should definitely be some deeper forensic probing. At the very least to determine the tank size and hold the land owner accountable. If it had been slightly drier that would have had very serious consequences.

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