FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Grass fires on Highway 99 in Fresno threatened an animal shelter and the staff jumped into action to protect the facility Wednesday morning.
The Fresno Fire Department says around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, several grass fires broke out along Highway 99 between Belmont Ave. and Highway 180.
Two of those fires broke out near Highway 99 and Nielsen, where the Fresno Humane Animal Services shelter sits parallel to the highway. The fires burned just yards from dog kennels and the shelter’s main office.
“We just used the hoses from here, threw them over the fence, and tried to get it out,” said Angela Brumm, a staff member at the Fresno Humane Animal Services.
Brumm said she and her team used hoses and fire extinguishers to put out two grass fires that came right up to the fence of the animal shelter. About ten staff members were able to successfully put out the fires before they reached the shelter.
“Our kennel supervisor was back here,” Brumm said. “He heard something clanking like maybe a chain on a truck, and then you could hear the crackling of the grass catching on fire.”
This indicates the fire may have been caused by sparks from a chain dragging behind a truck. A Fresno Fire Dept. spokesperson says this could be a possibility, but says the cause of the fires is still under investigation.
“Initial reports said that someone may have been starting them but we couldn’t verify that,” said Fresno Fire Dept. public information officer, Jonathan Lopez.
Lopez says dry conditions make grass along Central Valley highways especially prone to fires.
“In cases like these, sometimes it could be all sorts of different kinds of causes,” Lopez said. “It could be a chain dragging along the road, it could be a carelessly tossed cigarette butt.”
No injuries or structural damage were reported as a result of the fires.