Metal Grinding Caused California Wildland Fires

June 28--SAN ANDREAS -- Three fires in Calaveras County last week were all started because of grinding activity, according to the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Grinding is a metal-on-metal activity that produces a large amount of sparks. Some of those ignited dry vegetation near the grinding activity and started the fires, officials said.

The Reed Fire in San Andreas burned 109 acres and destroyed two structures. The Oak Fire on Pool Station Road near Copperopolis burned 88 acres and destroyed one structure. The Rawhide Fire on Rawhide Road near Jamestown burned 1 acre.

State law requires that anyone operating equipment that can produce a spark is required to ensure there is at least a 10-foot clearance of all flammable vegetation and to keep handy a shovel and backpack pump water-type fire extinguisher to douse any flames that might erupt.

Because of the extreme drought conditions, just about all vegetation should be considered highly flammable.

Dry conditions, coupled with temperatures that have been hotter than normal, have exacerbated the fire danger.

Cal Fire declared the fire season months earlier than normal this year.

Copyright 2014 - The Record, Stockton, Calif.