Candles likely cause of house fire |

Candles likely cause of house fire

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Candles burning Tuesday from the night before in a bedroom may have caused a house fire on San Diego Avenue in Meyers that sent out billowing smoke hundreds of feet into the air.

No one was hurt. The damage — mainly caused by heavy smoke — was contained to the one room and upstairs hallway, Lake Valley Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Michael reported.

Candles may have sparked the flames in the room of South Tahoe High School Vikings linebacker Buck Pershing.

Pershing, 15, came home at 5 p.m. to find his upstairs room on fire.

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“Last night night I was burning candles. I had my girlfriend over,” he said, visibly distraught over the damage on the 1000 block.

“My hands are tingling,” he said about the ordeal.

The window blew out from one wall of the bedroom.

“I could hear the window crackling,” the Vikings varsity player said.

After asking his neighbors to call 911, Pershing kicked the front and back doors in and tried to go upstairs to find the family dog, Butch. The dog was staying over at another home.

But once in the three-bedroom house, thick black smoke enveloped the sophomore, and he was forced to leave the structure.

Neighbors gathered around the home near Lake Tahoe Golf Course to lend support to the family and watch 22 firefighters extinguish the fire in minutes.

Three engines from Lake Valley and South Lake Tahoe fire departments along with a U.S. Forest Service fire unit responded at 5:29 p.m.

Buck’s mother, Barbara Cunningham-Pershing, arrived after her son called her.

“He told me the house was on fire, and I said: ‘You’re kidding,'” she said.

She and her husband, Glenn, who was out of town Tuesday, bought the home in 1977. She remembers the house flooding, but there has never been a fire, she said.

Cunningham-Pershing used an expletive after learning her son had candles burning Monday night and that the candles may have remained burning throughout the day when no one was home.

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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