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District 10 farmhouse goes up in flames
A District 10 farmhouse was engulfed in flames Friday afternoon when an explosion sent firefighters, police and paramedics scrambling for cover.
They ducked behind farm equipment, police cars and fire trucks as flaming debris rained down more than 50 yards from the burning home at 894 Noble Road, just south of a walnut orchard.
Firefighters were called around 4 p.m. to the Noble Road home, just east of Highway 70. More than 15 firefighters responded from CalFire-Marysville, Linda and Loma Rica. Authorities called the home a total loss.
The exploding oxygen tank forced firefighters to stay away for several minutes before returning with hoses.
A large column of black smoke rose several hundred feet and could be seen from miles away.
Residents Henry and Doris Hepner sat on the tailgate of a white Dodge pickup with tears in their eyes, watching the home they had lived in since 1970 burn to the ground. They declined comment.
"They're shaken," their son, Troy, said.
Doris Hepner received minor arm burns and an injury to her leg, but was not taken to the hospital, firefighters said. No other injuries were reported.
Troy Hepner doused flames with a garden hose until the blaze knocked down power lines and cut off his water supply.
"I think we lost two birds. The other animals are OK so far," he said.
Several horses, goats, dogs, chickens and lamas were moved into pens farther away from the burning house. Smaller explosions, attributed to propane tanks and rifle ammunition, were heard for more than an hour inside the home and workshop.
The Hepner family lost the home, several vehicles and a work shed.
Distraught family members questioned CalFire's response time.
Records showed the first firefighters were on scene 11 minutes after the 911 call, arriving at 4:09 p.m. The first call came at 3:58 p.m., according to dispatch records.
Noble Road is a little more than five miles from the department.
Flames continued to burn for more than hour. Firefighters were on scene for several hours after the flames were extinguished.
The fire appears to have sparked on the east side of the home before spreading to the rest of the building, Marysville fire Capt. Dennis Hunt said.
Firefighters were still investigating the cause but said it does not appear suspicious.
A damage estimate was not available Friday night.
"There was already a well-established column of smoke that we could see even before we got outside the city limits," Hunt said. "We called for (backup) even before arriving on scene."
Troy Hepner said his family does have a place to stay.
CONTACT Rob Parsons at email@example.com or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.