Crews battle 2-alarm fire at recycling plant near Benicia

BENICIA, Calif. (KGO) -- Firefighters are still struggling to battle a fire that broke out at a plant near Benicia early Monday morning.

Drivers who were heading on southbound Interstate 680 during the morning commute got quite a show as the fire sent up huge amounts of smoke and large flames, just east of the freeway.

The fire is tough, but blowing in a good direction, so no homes or buildings are threatened.

The wind wasn't the only obstacle firefighters faced because the fire also has a lot of fuel. It is burning bark piles, and wood materials that eventually turn to mulch.

They had to bring out at least 20 pieces of equipment to battle the fire. "The problem we have is the bark as the fire burns, it starts to smolder and burrows deep inside, so we're slowly tearing it apart with front loaders," Cordelia Fire Department Chief Keith Martin said.

The wind blew the smoke away from the interstate, toward the water, so no one was in jeopardy, and firefighters were able to take their time and attack it one section at a time.

Employees at nearby businesses were sympathetic as they watched the firefight, especially since this is the second time in two years that firefighters have fought a fire here. "The heat we have had the last couple of days, with the fuel and moisture that is in it, as wood starts to decompose it puts off heat, creates spontaneous combustion and that's what happened here," Martin said.

A power pole fell and some customers lost power, including nearby businesses. PG&E plans to repair the pole as soon as it's safe to go in the area. Officials said the power may come back on for residents at 2 p.m.

Many agencies from Fairfield, Benicia, Dixon, Napa, and CalFire are assisting Benicia with this fire.

Firefighters said although it's burning in an unincorporated county, Cordelia is the lead agency.

Officials said they believe the heat wave is to blame for this fire.
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