Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Submitted by Jody Mangum – June 29, 2016 –

fire tragedy in KlamathIn the early morning hours of June 25th, Mr. William Clare’s home on Weber Drive in Klamath went up in flames.  He was trapped inside and his friend Timmy Maxey bravely attempted to rescue him, sustaining severe burns to 75% of his body.  He is currently in critical care in San Francisco.

Calls to 911 were made and the operator responded that emergency was aware of the situation.  Apparently there was confusion with a separate house fire having occurred hours earlier on the same street, but many houses away.  The 911 dispatch was told there was audible screaming and someone trapped in the home.  Dispatch did not send help.  A CalFire crewman was contacted by the neighbor who called 911.  CalFire did not receive dispatch.  Neighbors were later informed that there was not a single volunteer fireperson to assist in the crisis.

Mr. Clare’s neighbors took action, rescuing Timmy Maxey from the front porch, as he was not giving up on saving his friend.  The house was engulfed in flames and the windows were popping out from the heat.  He was crying out, “My Bill, My Bill, My Bill…”  Neighbors rested him on the grass across the street.  All of his cloths had burned off.  Still help was not arriving.  A friend of Timmy’s unwittingly applied cold towels to his skin, not realizing he was in shock.

The fire station and trucks were approximately seven houses down and the neighbors attempted to get equipment to fight the fire themselves, only to find the two trucks at the station both had dead batteries.

Finally, Firefighters arrived at 4:35 after 911 was contacted at approximately 3:30am.

An attempt was made to get a copy of the 911 calls regarding this incident and I was told by the supervisor that they do not do that.

How can a tragedy like this be avoided in the future?  A man lost his life and as of Tuesday morning (four days later) the Triplicate had not reported on it.   What happened at dispatch?  What happened to the fire equipment the tribe needed to provide to the community for building the casino?  Who is the fire captain in charge of making sure the equipment is operational?  How many volunteers does Klamath have?  What can we do as a community to ensure basic safety?  Is it feasible that Klamath could have an ambulance available?  An eyewitness recounted that Mr. Maxey’s skin was falling off as they were trying to load him in the ambulance and that Mr. Clare’s remains were removed with a shovel.  May the graphic horror of the situation be noted by the powers that govern our community.  May these men not have suffered in vain.

  1. Freakin bullshit… my Uncle almost lost his life and his poor roommate, an elderly man lost his life because of stupidity. Those people should loose their jobs… they don’t deserve them.

  2. You failed to mention my uncle Timbo going into the house lit in flames heroically risking his own life to save his dear friend Bill now Timmy Maxey is in the hospital fighting for his own life I’m a United States infantryman. Some say I’m a hero. My Uncle Timbo is the only hero I know. I think he deserves at least some recognition for his sacrifice

  3. I will be forever grateful if the grief in my heart when I wrote this submission is recognized by anyone who reads this article. This really is a written prayer that we do better as a community in caring for each other. This is not about blame or going after anyone, as I have now been accused. I’m beyond certain every emergency responder did their absolute best — especially Cal Fire! It’s terrifying to think of what could have happened, if not for them. I greatly appreciate all the Tribe has done to make Klamath beautiful and safer. Maybe this will bring to light the extreme need for volunteers.

    May kindness and compassion prevail. My heart has broken that a man I really didn’t know died horrifically and there was no mention in the Triplicate or anywhere. I wrote this submission truly with the hope that Mr. Clare’s death would not go completely unnoticed. Rest in peace, Bill❤️
    Jody Mangum

    PS- replace your smoke detector batteries and get fire extinguishers and blessings to a safe fire season.

    1. File a “Freedom of Information Act” request for all the recorded lines and radio traffic from the time of the initial call until the last fireman left the scene. As a former Dispatcher and Firefighter i can say with all certainty that it was NOT the job of the dispatcher to make that judgement call. Tim is my brother-in-law and I have advised his dad and Kelly they need to retain a lawyer and fast.

  4. No one should have to die when a house is on fire and that home located within a couple of hundreds yards from a fire station. You expect that the fire would be extinguished in short order, well that doesn’t happen if you live in Klamath. This week that’s exactly what occurred in Klamath. Not a single fire truck from the Klamath fire station was dispatched to fight the fire. Ironically, the station is located just down the block from the site of the fire.

    While fire crews from Crescent Fire and Fort Dick Fire were called and fought the fire, it took them over a half an hour to reach the scene. By then, as these pictures attest, the home and garage was a total loss.

    So the question we are asking today is, how did this happen and how can it be prevented in the future. The first part of the question is easy. While Klamath Fire has an elected board who is supposed to oversee operations of the department, the department seems to be non functional. It has one part-time chief but no volunteers, therefore when the fire broke out, there was no local help available to fight the fire.

    In order to prevent this situation from happening in the future is not so simple. There are many unanswered questions. Why are there no volunteers? Is the chief actively involved in recruiting volunteers who would serve? Where was the chief at the time of the fire? What is the budget of the department and how is it being spent? Can the Yurok Tribe help in any way? What can the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors do to help? These are just some of the questions that have to be answered before we can formulate a plan to prevent this from happening in the future.

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