'Bird Bomb' Sparked California's Gloria Fire

SOLEDAD, Calif. --

A "bird bomb" -- also known as an agricultural firework -- set off near a vineyard owned by Constellation Wines U.S. started the Gloria Fire that charred nearly 6,500 acres near Soledad, Cal Fire officials said.

The blaze, which forced the evacuation of at least 100 homes, was fully contained as of Monday. The fire started off of Highway 101 at Gloria-Camphora Road on Thursday and has cost $4 million to fight so far.

Cliff Williams, of Cal Fire, said an investigation into how the firework ignited the blaze should wrap up by the end of the week. Williams also told Action News that workers at the vineyard did not report the fire, and that the first reports they received were from drivers on Highway 101.

"If it was malicious, it'd fall into the arson category. But if it was something careless, you never know what might be the repercussions for that," said Rick Hutchinson, of Cal Fire.

Cal Fire investigators, however, said they have found the fragments that started the blaze and do not think they were fired off correctly.

Diane Delorimier, of Sutton Ag Enterprises, is a local seller of "bird bombs," which are used to scare away birds from vineyards and orchards. Delorimier said the tools are registered with the ATF and most users receive safety training before being allowed to use them.

"They are an explosive registered by the ATF. So, users do need to be wary of the implications of that," Delorimier said.

There are about five to six fires every year caused by agricultural fireworks. In fact, another small fire caused by a "bird bombs" took place during the weekend, Cal Fire officials said.

The Gloria Fire is expected to be fully snuffed out by Wednesday.

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