Thursday, July 31, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Fast-moving grass fire forces evacuations, shuts Highway 12

a grass fire along highway 12 east

Fire crews work to contain a grass fire along Highway 12 east, July 13, 2014, in Fairfield. (Steve Reczkowski/Daliy Republic)

By
From page A1 | July 14, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — A four-alarm grass fire Sunday along Highway 12 forced the evacuation of several homes and stopped traffic as a cadre of firefighters from the surrounding areas converged to battle the fast-moving blaze.

The fire also tapped out the city’s firefighting resources.

Fairfield fire crews responded about 2 p.m. to the creek just east of the Meyer Corp. property where a vegetation fire sent clouds of white and black smoke into the sky. The wind-swept fire was quick to spread along the creek in an area known for its homeless encampments and was upgraded to two alarms, then to four alarms to draw more resources to the scene.

The Fire Department called for backup – in the form of a strike team – shortly after 2:15 p.m. from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, noting on social media a lack of available resources.

Fairfield police shut down westbound Highway 12 at Pennsylvania Avenue at around 2:30 p.m. due to dense smoke from the fire. Eastbound Highway 12 was closed about 10 minutes later at Beck Avenue. The closures prompted a severe traffic alert from the regional Transportation Management Center.

A convoy of Cal Fire fire engines, water tenders and bulldozers in tow arrived to the scene as the fire worked its way over the creek and into a neighboring field of dry grass. A Cal Fire plane also responded and dropped a couple of doses of red fire retardant from above the creek.

Fairfield Battalion Chief Bob Stoffel said crews were prepared for the fire to jump the creek, but it also jumped the highway about a quarter-mile away, moving into a field next to the Fairfield Police Department’s Art Koch Range and Training Facility on Rex Clift Lane, where responders had set up a command center.

“I thought we had it held at the creek,” he said.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for residents on the 1400 and 1500 blocks of James Street. About 20 homes were evacuated.

Stoffel said the fire burned about 15 acres. Responders included the Vallejo, Vacaville and Dixon fire departments well as the Suisun and Montezuma fire protection districts. The fire was mostly contained by about 3:15 p.m. and was reported as under control shortly after 3:45 p.m.

Both westbound and one eastbound lane of Highway 12 were open by 4:15 p.m. The final lane reopened at 5:50 p.m.

Stoffel said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

Glen Faison contributed to this report. Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or aharris@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.

Adrienne Harris

Adrienne Harris

Adrienne joined the Daily Republic in September 2009. She earned her journalism degree at the University of Florida in 2005 and has worked at newspapers in Fort Pierce, Fla.; Las Cruces, N.M.; and El Paso, Texas.
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Discussion | 10 comments

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  • elleryJuly 13, 2014 - 10:35 pm

    I hope they can nail one of those homeless tweekers out their for this fire. At least that's one person not giving citizens of FF a problem for awhile.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Skeptic ScroogeJuly 14, 2014 - 1:38 am

    Ellery, they CAN - but they won't.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FredJuly 14, 2014 - 5:14 am

    Who is responsible for the weed abatement between Hwy 12 north to the housing tract? Every year there is a fire over there & sooner or later it will blow through those houses. And when is FF's leaders & FPD going to do something about all the homeless along the creek where this fire started? (never comes to mind)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ThemisJuly 14, 2014 - 5:24 am

    Another liability related to ignoring the issue of these encampments that are established all over the city, like the one under the bridge at Texas and I-80 overpass. Last thing I want to see on my way to work in the morning is a man with his pants half-down coming out of the bushes from his morning bathroom trip. Its disgusting and dangerous as this fire illustrates. There are resources for homeless in Solano County. The people who occupy these encampments can't or won't go to shelters because the rules that the rights of the shelter and other shelter occupants be respected is too much to ask. so...the encampments.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tax PayerJuly 14, 2014 - 6:17 am

    Hopefully the homeless dude or dudette that started it was burned out!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mikeJuly 14, 2014 - 11:18 am

    this is the second time a homeless fire has started here. and so close to mission solano. the homless get a full gut mosey over to the creek after a quick stop to panhandle at food for less to get a jug. oops fire!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • james ringJuly 14, 2014 - 1:08 pm

    Once again the homeless have stared a fire. Fairfield looks the other way about the problem

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mikeJuly 14, 2014 - 1:14 pm

    mission solano must be in hobo weekly as the hot spot for vagerance. if we dont feed them they will move on

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Annie TylerJuly 14, 2014 - 4:40 pm

    my roommates say there was another fire over by the mall today what about that?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Paul OlsonJuly 14, 2014 - 8:22 pm

    While a fire started by the homeless may have been the cause, it may have also been one of those idiots that throws their lit cigarettes butts out the window. The article says the cause has not been determined.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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