Machine failure may have caused deadly California wildfire, wood products company says

WEED, Calif. – 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 a possible machine failure. of water spray used to cool the ashes of its 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 the company’s facility 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 sprayed with cooling water by a “machine provided by a third party.” .

“Roseburg is investigating whether the third-party machine did not cool the ashes sufficiently, 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. 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.

Dave Rodgers inspects his lifelong home in Weed, Calif., on Saturday, which was destroyed by the mill fire. Rodgers took an elderly neighbor with him as he fled, but he was unable to find his two dogs.Noah Berger / AP

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 sending a huge plume of smoke over the town of Hemet in Riverside County, about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Josh Janssen told a briefing that the blaze only remained 5% under control 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,” Sheriff Sgt. Brandi Swan said. “It appears the two Victims found inside the vehicle were trying to flee the fire.

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 with zero containment. 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.

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