Firefighter injured battling blaze near HW1

September 26, 2010 12:48:51 PM PDT
A volunteer firefighter remains in critical but stable condition at a burn center in San Francisco after being injured while battling a wildfire near Bodega Bay Saturday.

CAL FIRE believes he touched a power line.

The fire broke out Saturday afternoon near Highway 1 and Bodega Highway. It has burned at least 89 acres, but by Sunday morning, crews had it 90 percent contained and the CHP was escorting drivers through a section of highway near the scene.

More than 300 firefighters from 14 different agencies pounced on the fire, but it had a lot of fuel to keep it going and it was not until 6.5 hours after it started that firefighters got most of it contained.

"It was amazing. It was so fast. From the time it happened, within a minute probably, it was uncontrollable. There was no way to put it out," Tracie Crayne told ABC7.

Crayne was at home watching TV when the power went out. She was headed toward the breaker box when she saw the fire. She barely got out in time.

"I didn't even grab my purse. I just left everything sitting on the counter. I had my dog and my animals and got out of there," she said.

The fire burned a rural area, and the location and dry conditions gave the fire exactly what it needed to last most of the day.

"There's been some heavy fuels, eucalyptus growth and some Scottish Brooms. So, the fuels were typical for the coast," explained CAL FIRE spokesperson Suzie Blankenship.

Officials had to close the roads leading into Bodega which made for a very quiet Saturday night. The owner of the Casino Bar had prepared for a large crowd but did not end up with many customers.

"Barbecued oysters and everything, we had to close the oysters up and the cook couldn't come in. So, I guess I'll be flipping burgers if a few people make it through," said owner Elizabeth Schimpf.

The few people who did "make it through" spent the night talking about the fire and the volunteer firefighter who was hurt trying to put it out.

"He has a family, wife and daughter," Schimpf said. "So, we're all praying for him."

Crane's shed and a section of her home were burned in the fire. She will be staying with a good friend who is just grateful that Tracie is OK.

"We've never seen anything like this out here. It looks like a bomb went off here to me. It doesn't look like our home," Justine Malpas said.

Officials say they are still trying to figure out what started the fire, but Crayne says she knows what happened. She says a power line came down on her property.


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