Another bizarre cause of a wildfire

Yesterday Wildfire Today told you about a fire that was caused when two men exchanged a lit cigarette, which ignited…

“aspen cotton fluff floating in the air and started the fire.”

That one was new to me. Floating aspen cotton fluff. Hmmmm.

Now we just heard about another weird cause of a fire.

Investigators are still working on this case, but it appears that a six-acre fire near Tooele, Utah was caused by a flock of birds. I’ve heard of large birds, hawks and eagles, causing fires when their wings touch two powerlines, which completes a circuit, and the flaming bird hits the ground, causing a vegetation fire.

Here is what the power company is thinking in this case:

Margaret Oler, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Power, said the downed line was a result of a huge flock of European starlings — an 8-9 inch glossy black bird — landing on the lines. When the starlings all took off at the same time, it caused the lines to bounce too close to each other, causing the circuit to open up and cutting off power and causing a neutral line to fall to the ground.

“A neutral line is a line that is not energized,” Oler said.

Rocky Mountain Power isn’t sure that the downed line is the cause of the fire, but is still investigating the incident, according to Oler.

Often when two powerlines touch, hot molten metal falls to the ground and starts a fire. This was the cause of one of the large fires in San Diego County last year.

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