Machine failure may have caused fire at NorCal plant, company says

WEED, Siskiyou County — A wood products company said Wednesday it is investigating whether a fire that killed two people as it swept through a northern California town was caused by the possible outage of a a water spray machine used to cool the ash from his veneer plant. .

Roseburg Forest Products Co. also announced that while the investigation is not complete, it plans to provide up to $50 million for a community restoration fund.

The factory fire erupted Sept. 2 at company facilities in the small town of Weed on Interstate 5, about 280 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Roseburg Forest Products said in a press release that its plant generates its own electricity in a cogeneration facility fueled by leftover wood, and the ejected ash is pulverized with cooling water by a “machine supplied by a third”.

“Roseburg is investigating whether the third-party machine did not sufficiently cool the ashes, thereby starting the fire,” the statement said.

Hundreds of people fled as the fire spread, destroying 107 structures and damaging 26 others. The fire eventually grew to over 6 square miles (15.5 square km). The fire was 65% contained on Wednesday, with minimal activity.

Roseburg said her fund will help residents with temporary shelter, medical supplies and treatment, transportation, clothing, food and water, and child care.

Elsewhere, wildfires have spiraled out of control in Southern California and the Sierra Nevada, forcing evacuations.

The deadly Fairview Fire spread more than 15 square miles (39 square km) as it sent a huge plume of smoke over the town of Hemet in Riverside County, about 80 miles away ( 129 km) southeast of Los Angeles.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Josh Janssen told a briefing the blaze remained only 5% contained with “open fire from all sides of the fire still threatening multiple communities.” Evacuation orders were expanded on Wednesday afternoon.

The blaze broke out amid triple-digit heat on Monday and spread ferociously, killing two people found in a vehicle, severely burning another person while destroying seven structures and damaging several others.

“Unfortunately, we are unable to positively identify the victims at this time. But we believe they were related to the same family,” the sheriff’s sergeant said. said Brandi Swan. “It appears that the two victims who were found inside the vehicle were trying to flee the fire.”

The injured person was only identified as a woman. Swan said she was expected to survive.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Southern California Edison notified the California Public Utilities Commission that “circuit activity” occurred shortly after the fire was reported, the Los Angeles Times said. The activity was not specified.

About 35 miles to the north, smoke billowed over ski trails in the San Bernardino Mountains as the Radford Fire fed through stands of timber south of the Big Bear Lake resort area.

The blaze has spread over 1.5 square miles (3.8 square km) since it was spotted by a US Forest Service helicopter crew on Monday afternoon. It was only 2% contained.

In the Sierra, evacuation orders and warnings were in place in Placer and El Dorado counties as the one-day Mosquito Fire grew to nearly 6.5 square miles (16.8 square km ) with zero confinement. Several structures and at least 10 cars were set on fire near the small Gold Rush community of Michigan Bluff.

Near the Oregon border, the Mountain Fire covered more than 18 square miles of Siskiyou County and was 30% contained. It started on September 2.