8-alarm fire caused by rare winds, marshland vegetation

SOLANO COUNTY, Calif.

The eight-alarm vegetation fire erupted around noon on Friday, just outside Fairfield at Highway 12 and Branscombe Road. Gusty winds blew smoke throughout the Bay Area.

The Oakland Fire Department put additional units in the Oakland Hills. That's because high winds pushed 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 and 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.

Because of the smoke, the Bay Area Air Quality Management issued a smoke advisory to Bay Area residents on Friday, but it was lifted as of 6 a.m. Saturday.

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