Investigators: Transients started fire on Kimball Island

Investigators say transients started a brush fire that destroyed three homes on Kimball Island on Tuesday.
January 15, 2014 6:41:43 PM PST
Investigators say transients started a brush fire on Kimball Island in the Delta just north of Antioch on Tuesday. The brush fire burned up to 50 acres, damaged three homes and several outbuildings.

The fire was first reported around 3:30 p.m. and was finally brought under control at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

It was quite some time before firefighters arrived and that's in part because no one is claiming responsibility for fire protection on Kimball Island, which is in the Delta and part of Sacramento County.

When the call went out about a fire on Kimball Island, the first thing fire dispatchers did was try to figure out who was is in charge of putting it out.

"Yeah, there was a lot of confusion. That specific island is right on the border of three different counties, Solano County, Sacramento County and Contra Costa County. All three dispatch centers were calling different agencies trying to pinpoint it," Rio Vista Fire Department spokesperson Scott Bahrenfuss said.

To further confuse the situation, the fire wasn't actually burning on Kimball Island at all, but on a piece of land across Cabin Slough that appears to be part of Sherman Island.

In any case, this community that once numbered 78 cabins is not served by any roads, public utilities, or as it turns out any fire department.

KXTV confirmed that with Bill Fraser, the owner of a muffler shop and president of the Cabin Owners' Association.

George Warren: "It's come to my attention that there's no fire district that protects those cabins."

"No, absolutely not. It's up to the individual to take care of that part of it," Fraser said.

George Warren: "So you knew that, when fire breaks out, there's no help coming?"

"Yeah, that's right, we know that," Fraser said.

Fortunately, a total of five state and local fire agencies did respond. There were people out there and they weren't going to let it burn.

Eleven people on the island were evacuated, and no one was hurt.

However, three cabins were severly damaged because fire boats and helicopters had difficulty getting to the blaze.

A group gathered at the boat launch across the river and watched the family that owned one of them return from an inspection.

"They were pretty sad. They took the family out to see it. They had kids on board and they were all you know," Antioch resident Jerry Overmeyer said.

The cabin owners leased the land from the state in a long-ago arrangement.

Fraser doesn't own a cabin and said it's doubtful they'll be able to rebuild.

"It's just a place to be on the river. You could do whatever you wanted out there. The only thing you have to watch for is fire," Fraser said.

There appears to be no formal investigation into the cause of the fire because as it should be clear by now, no firefighting agency is accepting responsibility for that remote corner of the Delta.

KXTV and ABC7 News contributed to this story.

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