Fire could have caused toxic air in which the fire could not have grown, officials say

Lumber mill says hot ash may have sparked deadly wildfire

By Associated Press

Friday, June 27, 2017

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Hot ash from a fire that killed 43 people in Northern California could have caused deadly toxic air in which the blaze could not have grown, officials said Friday.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that a report to be completed in July from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection will determine whether the San Jose fire was caused by the burning of wood products, or “hot ash” that landed on trees and started the “fuel-load-induced” inferno.

“Based on the data so far, we don’t see a way that there’s enough hot ash to have moved through the air to have had a significant influence on the fire,” said Mike Davis, a fire scientist for the U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In a statement, the U.S. Forestry Service said it would await the National Transportation Safety Board’s report and California’s report, which are expected within 45 days.

“The report will include everything from photos of the terrain, air quality readings, and air-temperature readings, to satellite imagery,” said spokeswoman Marlene Ramos. “It also takes into account other factors to determine the cause.”

More than 1,600 are dead, including 43 children and six fire officials, while nearly 1,600 homes were destroyed and 14,000 homes were damaged.

The San Jose blaze started June 17 and was later joined by another blaze in Yuba County. A third, in Contra Costa County, was discovered on Thursday but is still in its early stages.

A fire burning in the region since June 7 has burned more than 20,000 acres (80 square miles) and has destroyed 2,400 structures, authorities said. A containment line was set by fire leaders to a high of 29,000 acres (109 square miles),

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