Fire at lumber mill in Auberry may take days to put out


FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Firefighters continue to pour water on stacks of burning logs at a lumber mill in Auberry in an effort that may take several days.

The Deck Fire spread to nearby grass and trees soon after it started Wednesday afternoon. Those vegetation fires are now out. Firefighters say their top priority is keeping the fire from spreading again.

On Thursday, several tanker trucks rotated water deliveries to firefighters at the mill.

“We’re having to draw from different places around the area, as far down as Millerton Lake at the boat ramp,” said Battalion Chief Roger Raines. “Just so we don’t draw any one system down because obviously everyone’s on well up here.”

Raines was one of the first at the scene Wednesday afternoon after reports that sparks from a saw may have set the logs on fire. He says the heat generated by this fire is particularly intense.

“They pulled the heavy equipment in there to pull it apart and just put a bunch of water on it to cool it down before we get the really hot, dry weather in here this afternoon when it changes.”

Raines says he hopes they can have the fire out in a couple of days – but that could possibly turn to weeks depending on how deep the fire has penetrated the stacks of burning logs.

Firefighters are focusing on certain parts of the fire determined by wind direction and the arrangement of the logs in order to reduce the chance of hot embers traveling in the air and starting new fires.

“Typically, there’s not a lot we can do,” said Raines. “Usually we let it burn down. That’s what we actually did last night. We concentrated on the perimeter that would give us issues with spot fires and so forth.”

Logging is a substantial part of the area’s history. Auberry, like other nearby towns, is home to several lumber mills.

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