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Fire scorches 10 acres in Folsom

By: Laura Newell Telegraph staff writer
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A grass fire in the open space near the SMUD facility in Folsom overtook about 10 acres of open space Monday. “The cause is undetermined at this point; investigators are on scene trying to figure out what happened,” said Folsom Fire Chief Ron Phillips. Folsom Fire Division Chief John Haberek said investigators have ruled out accidental causes such as electrical, motor vehicle and other natural causes. “There was a report that someone heard a bottle rocket, but that is still under investigation,” Haberek said. “The area is occupied by teenagers oftentimes, so that is all under investigation.” Haberek said the next phase for the investigation is to talk to witnesses and try to pinpoint what may have caused the fire. The open space is fairly large, said Phillips, covering about 30 or more acres in size. “All units from the Folsom Fire Department were called and units from Sacramento Metro Fire arrived to help,” Phillips said. Units from the Folsom Police Department also responded to help keep spectators a safe distance from the fire. Originally, it was reported as a tree fire, but when Folsom Fire units arrived the fire spread to open grass space, Phillips said. Units first responded within minutes of the report and the fire was contained in about one hour. “Both SMUD and PG&E occupy the area as substations,” Phillips said. “I don’t believe they generate power here. Power substations are not threatened at this point.” There were no injuries or property damaged from the fire. “We have enough resources here that no further spread is anticipated,” Phillips said. Phillips said a similar fire occurred on the facility last year. The fire caused thick black smoke to fill the surrounding air and brought many onlookers to the scene. Katie Johnson, 16, has lived across the street from the SMUD facility for five years with her family. She came out to watch the fire with her mom Deanna. “We saw a big smoke cloud from the house, it just looked like a big shadow,” Katie said. “The fire seems to be traveling fast.” Deanna said she does not fear the fire attacking their nearby house. “There is ash flying in the air, but we all have clay roofs, so we are not afraid of the fire hitting us,” Deanna said. Fred Hurkmans is a 13-year Folsom resident living near the facility. “My wife saw smoke and heard sirens, so I came out to see the fire,” Hurkmans said. He said with the eucalyptus trees and nearby park surrounding the facility, he is not worried about the fire spreading to surrounding houses.