FAIRFIELD — An undetermined source on the Interstate 80 side of the sound wall behind a residential neighborhood caused the Marigold Fire that destroyed five homes and damaged at least 10 others Aug. 27, the city of Fairfield says.
A specific ignition source cannot be identified, according to the Solano Napa Fire Investigation Unit report the city released Thursday. Surprisingly, few cigarette butts were in the area, the report notes.
“Other sources like hot carbon fire from trucks accelerating for the approaching hill or hot metal thrown off from vehicles cannot be eliminated,” the report adds.
Fairfield Battalion Chief Bob Stoffel, the local investigating officer for the report, said the damage estimate remains at more than $1 million for the fire at I-80 at the rear of Marigold Drive.
It’s not unusual to have a fire started by an undetermined source, he said.
“It’s just not known,” Stoffel said.
The path of the fire from the side of the freeway over the sound wall resulted from wind-borne embers blown over the wall and dropped by the erratic winds of up to 15 mph onto the partially mowed area between the houses and the sound wall, the city said in its release.
“Our first engine company reported significant, swirling wind turbulence between the freeway and the wall,” Stoffel said. “This type of wind interaction, between the natural winds and the additional turbulence generated by the passing vehicles, pushed this fire to spread quickly with very high flames.”
The city said it has been in contact with the state Department of Transportation to request weed abatement along I-80 through town to reduce the likelihood of this type of fire occurring again.
The Solano Napa fire investigation report said on the west side of the I-80 sound wall that standing grasses and weeds were fuels for the fire. The area had not been mowed, the report notes. A small, hand-dug fire break anchored the heel of the fire.
A few breaks are in the wall along with open seams between sections of the wall, the report adds, but it does not appear that the fire actually progressed through the wall near the heel of the fire to ignite the east side.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or email@example.com.