Wildfire news, November 20, 2008

California: Freeway fire may have been started by exhaust

Investigators are evaluating the possibility that the 30,305 Freeway fire west of Corona may have been started by the catalytic converter on a vehicle. The fire was officially contained on Wednesday. The fire caused minor injuries to 14 firefighters, destroyed 187 residences and damaged 127 others, while four commercial properties were either damaged or destroyed.

Westmont College says its students didn’t start Tea fire

From the LA Times, concerning the fire near Montecito and Santa Barbara, California:

Westmont College, the 1,200-student Christian university that was damaged in last week’s disastrous Tea fire, announced Wednesday that none of its current students were involved in the incident that sparked the blaze.

On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department said the fire that damaged or destroyed 219 homes was ignited by a group of 10 students who had built a bonfire and abandoned its smoldering remains.

The department, however, did not say which school the suspects attended, raising speculation among some residents that the students attended Westmont.

On Wednesday, college President Gayle D. Beebe responded to the rumors in a written statement.

“On Wednesday afternoon at approximately 2:45 p.m., Drew Sugars, the public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s [Department], officially informed the college that no current Westmont students were present nor in any way involved with this tragic incident,” he wrote.

Hawaii fire on Lanai contained

The fire on the island of Lanai is now contained at about 1,000 acres. Yesterday Wildfire Today covered the evacuation of 600 people, some in boats.

San Diego County suing power company for fires

San Diego County is suing San Diego Gas and Electric over the damages caused by the fires of October, 2007. The suit includes damages for the loss of property tax revenue; loss of wildlife habitat; debris removal; and destruction of public buildings.

Three of the most damaging 2007 wildfires – the Witch Creek, Guejito and Rice Canyon fires – were started when sparks from arcing SDG&E power lines ignited brush during high winds, two separate state investigations have found.

Arizona: Marteen fire still active


Marteen fire on Squaw Mountain. USFS

This fire northwest of Flagstaff has been burning since August 7. It is a fire use fire, so it’s not being suppressed. Thought dead after the summer monsoons, the fire, 700 acres at that time, sprang back to life on October 15. Now it has burned 10,788 acres. It is expected to continue to burn slowly and creep around as long as conditions remain dry.

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