3 Firefighters Burned in California Blaze

June 11, 2008
Two firefighters were flown to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, while the third firefighter was driven to Sutter Roseville Medical center.

LINCOLN, Calif. --

Three firefighters were burned Wednesday morning -- the second such incident in as many days as dry, hot winds whipped through Northern California.

Seven to 10 acres burned near Nicolaus Road at Dowd Road.

An official said Cal Fire crew members were using a fire truck to douse flames when the wind shifted and the fire overcame the crew.

"Firefighters were working on the right flank of the fire on the western edge of the fire, making a mobile attack, basically putting down water and driving at the edge of the fire," Bill Mendonca from Cal Fire said.

Two firefighters were flown to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, while the third firefighter was driven to Sutter Roseville Medical center, a Cal Fire representative said.

Mendonca said there was a driver in the fire truck at the time, and two other firefighters were outside.

No structures were burned, authorities said.

On Tuesday, a Sacramento fire captain was hospitalized with severe burns after a wind-driven grass fire unexpectedly changed direction and intensity. Fire crews were monitoring the 6,400-acre grass fire that jumped several roads. Ten structures burned, including two homes.

Much of Northern California was on high alert for fires Wednesday after wind-fed blazes on Tuesday destroyed or damaged several dozen homes and other structures and scorched thousands of acres. Fire officials also fought a Vacaville house fire on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service warned that low humidity and strong north wind would once again make conditions ripe for disastrous fires. In the Sacramento area, gusts will reach 40 mph.

"We have a very volatile situation on our hands," said Jeff Lynch, spokesman for Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

The three largest fires burned in the Butte County town of Palermo, in east Sacramento County south of Rancho Cordova and in Stockton.

The 1,600-acre Butte County fire destroyed 21 homes, 28 outbuildings and 99 vehicles. It was 50 percent contained early Wednesday. About 500 people were asked to leave the area.

Flying embers caused the blaze to hopscotch through the countryside, making it especially difficult for fire crews to corral. Nobody was injured.

An evacuation center was set up at the Church of the Nazarene in nearby Oroville, but many residents were returning to their property as of early Wednesday.

"The public needs to be extremely fire-cautious right now," Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said. "We have extreme fire, a lot of wind, and just a simple spark can cause a new fire, so people really need to be extra cautious over the next couple of days."

In Stockton, fire investigators have ruled out the possibility of a lit cigarette tossed from a car window from Interstate 5 as the cause of an urban blaze that destroyed nine homes and damaged several condominiums on Tuesday.

"The ignition source has ruled out anything from I-5 igniting the fire. So we're looking more locally to the neighborhood area rather than I-5 as the cause ... a cigarette being thrown out from I-5 or any debris from I-5 has been ruled out," Dan Morris from the Stockton Fire Department said.

In Tuolumne County, Cal Fire said a grass fire that scorched grassland was caused by a short-circuited water pump connection from a nearby home.

The La Grange Fire, which burned 1,200-acre fire near Highway 132 and Don Pedro Reservoir, is now 90 percent contained, Cal Fire said.

A house and three cars were destroyed Wednesday by a grass fire near Vacaville. All 10 residents of the home escaped safely.

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