Crews mop up after 3-alarm fire burns 40 acres in Pittsburg

Firefighters in Pittsburg kept watch for hours on the three-alarm fire that broke out Thursday evening and burned 40 acres.
March 20, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
The brush fire is under control, but a crew stayed on scene well into the night, just to make sure it stays down.

As the sun went down on Pittsburg, firefighters gained control of what they called an unusual fire.

"It's burning on top of the water. Fire on water," said George Laing from the Contra Costa Fire Protection District.

Flaming tule reeds, eight to 10 feet high, burned over a boggy marsh filled with three to four feet of water. Firefighters relied on catwalks to get to the flames, but when the catwalks caught fire they had to slog through the marsh.

The Pittsburg power plant is currently non-operational. So there was no threat of a major power outage. The real threat came from transmission lines above.

"The PG&E transmission lines contain high voltage and in some cases smoke and particulate matter burning from fires can cause arcing between the lines and down to the ground, and that was a concern," said Laing.

Willow Pass Road was closed for about two hours preventing people from getting to work and home.

"Last summer we had the other side of the road catch on fire and we had pretty much the same situation and we were stuck out here. It was around the Fourth of July," said Steve Sebastian, a truck driver.

But that was July when vegetation is expected to be dry.

"We're all surprised at aggressive fire behavior that causes a three-alarm fire in the tules in March. We're concerned about the kind of fire behavior we're going to get this summer," said Laing.

This fire consumed a lot of fresh green grass and by July it'll all be dead, so another fire like this could spread a lot faster and jump the roads. Investigators are still trying to figure out the cause of this fire.

Capt. Robert Marshall said the blaze threatened a few power lines connected to the nearby NRG Energy, Inc. natural gas power plant but was not a threat to any structures at the plant, including large tanks previously used for fuel storage.

No injuries were reported.

Bay City News contributed to this report.


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