VIEW, Calif. (AP) — A wood products company said Wednesday it is investigating whether the fire that killed two people in a Northern California town was caused by a possible failure of a water sprayer used to cool ash at its plywood mill. .
Roseburg Forest Products Co. also announced that while the investigation is pending, it plans to allocate up to $50 million to a community recovery fund.
The mill fire broke out on September 2 at the company’s facility in the small town of Weed on Interstate 5, about 280 miles (451 km) northeast of San Francisco.
Roseburg Forest Products said in a press release that its factory generates its own power in a wood-residue-fired cogeneration plant, and the ash that is thrown out is sprayed with cooling water by a “third-party machine.”
“Roseburgh is investigating whether a third party machine failed to cool the ash enough to cause the fire,” the report said.
Hundreds of people fled as the fire spread, destroying 107 structures and damaging 26 others. The flames eventually grew to over 6 square miles (15.5 square kilometers). On Wednesday, the fire was 65% contained with minimal activity.
Roseburg said his foundation will help residents with temporary shelter, medical supplies and treatment, transportation, clothing, food and water, and childcare services.
Elsewhere, wildfires have spiraled out of control in Southern California and the Sierra Nevada, prompting evacuations.
The deadly Fairview Fire has spread over an area of more than 11 square miles (28 square kilometers) near the city of Hemet in Riverside County, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles.
California Fire Battalion Chief Josh Janssen said at a briefing that the fire was only 5% contained, while “open fire from all sides of the fire continues to threaten several communities.”
The fire broke out on Monday amid a triple-digit heatwave and spread ferociously, killing two people who were found in the vehicle, severely burning another, destroying seven structures and damaging several others.
“Unfortunately, at this time we cannot accurately identify the victims. But we believe they were from the same family,” Sheriff Sgt. Brandi Swan said. “It looks like the two victims who were found inside the car were trying to escape the fire.”
The victim was identified only as a woman. The swan said she had to survive.
The cause of the fire was under investigation. Southern California Edison notified the California Public Utilities Commission that “circuit activity” occurred shortly before the fire was reported, according to the Los Angeles Times. Activity not listed.
About 35 miles (56 kilometers) to the north, smoke hung over ski runs in the San Bernardino Mountains as the Radford Fire consumed forest stands south of the Big Bear Lake resort region.
The blaze has spread 1.5 square miles (3.8 square kilometers) since it was spotted by a US Forest Service helicopter crew on Monday afternoon. It contained only 2%.
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 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) without containment.
Near the Oregon border, the mountain fire engulfed over 18 square miles of Siskiyou County and was 30% contained. It started on September 2nd.
About the photo: A charred pickup truck stands in front of a Wakefield Avenue home destroyed by a mill fire on Saturday, September 3, 2022, in Weed, California. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
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