Solano County grass fire prompts Bay Area smoke advisory

October 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you smell smoke, it may seem like there's a fire right next door, but it's probably from the one in Solano County.

The eight-alarm vegetation fire erupted around noon on Friday, just outside Fairfield at Highway 12 and Branscombe Road. A fierce wind has been blowing the smoke throughout the Bay Area. Fire is under control, but crews are paying attention to the wind and a few teetering power poles damaged by the fire.

The Oakland Fire Department put additional units in the Oakland Hills. That's because high winds are pushing smoke and ashes from the Solano County fire into its city.

The huge plume of smoke could be seen from miles away.

Firefighters say the fire started off Highway 12 just outside Suisun City. So far, it's burned 1,000 acres.

This area is known as the Potrero Hills. School children who were on a field trip at Rush Ranch were told to leave the area, and about a dozen homes were evacuated.

June Guidotti left her 150 acre property that she says has been in her family for five generations.

"If it's gone it's gone," she said. "What are you gonna do?"

In addition to homes, there are several outbuildings on each parcel. Flames destroyed one structure, a barn full of hay with several pieces of farm equipment.

About 100 firefighters were called in, many from neighboring counties.

"Weather is contributing to our ability to control the fire," said Suisun Fire District Chief Aaron McAlister. "We have humidity bottoming out in single digits, humidity levels, and wind gusts up and over 100 miles an hour."

It was a close call for cows in the area. Flames came dangerously close to a few dozen of them trapped in a corral. Fortunately, someone eventually let them out and the cows were able to roam away from the flames.

As for containing this fire, firefighters have a plan.

"At some point, in 40 mile per hour winds we're not going to catch the fire," Chief McAlister said. "It's going to run into natural barriers, roads, the marsh. And then as it slows down, hits areas where it doesn't grow as rapidly and we can get some containment on the fire."

The blaze is 70 percent contained. They hope to have it fully contained by nightfall.

Because of the smoke, the Bay Area Air Quality Management is issuing a smoke advisory to Bay Area residents.

Smoke from this fire has been observed moving southwest into the Bay Area and may impact parts of San Francisco, the East Bay, and Peninsula.

Bay Area residents in these regions are advised to:

* Reduce exposure to smoky air by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed
* Set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate
* If air smells of smoke, limit outdoor activities to avoid unnecessary exposure
* If you have asthma or other lung disease, make sure you follow your doctor's directions about taking your medicines and following your asthma management plan. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
* If you have heart or lung disease, if you are an older adult, or if you have children, talk with your doctor about whether and when you should leave the area.
* Go to www.baaqmd.gov or www.sparetheair.org to check real-time air quality


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