Forest Knolls fire destroys one home

David Briggs
Denise Bowman, the manager of a Forest Knolls mobile home park where a fire broke out Friday, surveys the damage done to her home, which now displays pinkish bubbles where flames licked a wall. Inside, a hanging quilt of Our Lady of Guadalupe may have mysteriously spared her home, according to firefighters.

One trailer burned to the ground and three others were damaged at a Forest Knolls mobile home park during the wee hours Friday morning in a fire whose origins are yet unknown.

Bill Everett, the owner of the trailer that first caught fire, screamed out for help at around 1 a.m. 

“I hear someone screaming, ‘I’m dying, help me, help me,’” said Denise Bowman, the manager of the park. Looking outside, she saw flames shooting from the top of the nearby trailer. 

Mr. Everett then called out for John, Denise’s husband, who ran in with a fire extinguisher and pulled him out. 

Ms. Bowman pounded on every home in the 20-unit park, comprised mostly of senior citizens, and everyone was evacuated in two minutes, she said. 

The fire department was on the scene moments later. “By the time they got in, there was propane shooting out the sides from the lines, like something in a movie,” Ms. Bowman said.

Barbara Scott, who moved in just two weeks ago, said although flames were sky high, there was no sense of panic. “There are things that are happening and there’s nothing you can do,” she said.

Twenty-four firefighters eliminated the main blaze in eight minutes, though there were still hot spots to contend with.

“They saved all of our homes, without a doubt,” Ms. Bowman said. “When you usually hear about a fire in a place like this, you usually hear tragedy.”

Mr. Everett, a carpenter and San Geronimo Valley native, is being treated for facial burns and smoke inhalation at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, according to the Marin County Fire Department. His cat was not so fortunate. 

On Monday morning, the remains of a fence was piled beside the blackened space where Mr. Everett’s trailer stood days earlier. Several paces away, Ms. Bowman’s butter-colored home displayed a pink, bubbled area she called a “sunburn.”

Through a crispy hole in the back of another unit, the bed of a young girl was ominously visible. That trailer, which belongs to 65-year-old Colleen Austin, was saved from significant damage by an intervening shed that slowed the fire’s movement, although the unit suffered electrical damage. The Red Cross is providing temporary housing for her and her two foster grandchildren.

Ms. Austin, who has lived in the park for eight years, was unsure how much the electrical repair would cost and was still figuring out where she would get the money to cover the expense.

The fire department is attempting to determine the cause of the fire, but, as interim battalion chief Jeremy Pierce said, “Due to the total consumption of the trailer itself, that’s going to be real challenge.”