Lumber mill says hot ash may have sparked deadly wildfire
A huge plume of ash that rose from a California wildfire was the result of the kind of fire that would have been fueled by a furnace, a California state fire official said.
Cal Fire reported that hot ash from the Camp Fire, which has destroyed tens of thousands of homes, sparked the fire that began Nov. 8. The blaze is 100 percent contained.
California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported finding a hot spot near the northeast corner of the Camp Fire, where the fire’s intensity became so intense it was “fueling” itself and turning into a fire after nearly 90 percent of the plant caught fire.
Cal Fire assistant chief Steve Conroy said the hot area likely was the result of an electrical short and the fire would have burned unchecked if it had instead burned in the middle of an electric pole.
That pole was the only structural fire protection in the neighborhood, which is being rebuilt after the blaze.
Cal Fire officials had previously said the Camp Fire could have been sparked by an electrical short.
“If I saw a fire that originated in a gas water heater or a hot water heater, it would probably blow up the house in front of it,” said Conroy. “The house behind that house could ignite.”
By the time the Camp Fire erupted Nov. 8, the region had sustained catastrophic damage — most famously on Nov. 8, when the area burned to the ground. Two days later, the blaze killed six people as it expanded to an area larger than New York’s Central Park.
In total, the Camp Fire destroyed more than 245,000 acres and destroyed or damaged about 1,000 structures, according to Cal Fire.
The massive fire has prompted a huge rebuild effort, and many residents spent the weekend outside and in shelters.
Conroy said the hot spot — located in a fire break, which is a border between two different fire zones — may have caused the fire’s intensity to spike.
“The one positive is that what we are not seeing is that the fire itself is growing into the area being burned,” Conroy said. “The next week and next week and next week we expect to see growth.”
Cal Fire is still investigating the cause of the fire, and said in a written statement that the fire “proved resilient to contain” and that the “entire area” burned.