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Crews Battle Brush Fires

The Escalon and Farmington areas are not immune to fires – with a couple of recent brush fires bearing out that point.

Now in the midst of the state’s traditional ‘fire season,’ conditions are ripe, with brisk winds and high temperatures contributing to the danger.

This past week, a couple of three-acre blazes have kept firefighters busy.

Escalon Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro said firefighters there were dispatched to a fire along Dahlin Road, near Ullrey, on Sunday, July 8 just after noon. The fire was in the 19000 block of Dahlin and burned about three acres, said Pinheiro. While crews were addressing that fire, a smaller vegetation fire broke out in the area of Santa Fe and Harrold. That turned out to be a small roadside grass fire.

The larger Dahlin fire saw Escalon call in a little extra support.

“We had a water tender from Farmington,” Pinheiro said of needing additional water on scene.

Crews were dispatched at 12:01 p.m. and Pinheiro said they were able to return to quarters at 1:45 p.m., with the fire knocked down fairly quickly.

Meanwhile, in Farmington, a fire on Monday, July 9 saw more than three acres burn in a river bottom fire in Johnny Creek, on Henry Road about a mile south of Sonora Road.

“All I could see was huge flames,” Farmington Fire Chief Conni Bailey said, noting that she called for mutual aid even before she arrived on scene. “It was a creek bottom fire that had gotten into trees … it was about 300 yards away from a structure.”

With quick response, no structures were burned but the heavy undergrowth in the dry creekbed did provide some challenges.

“We contained it pretty quickly, but the mop up took a long time,” explained Bailey.

Along with Farmington Fire, mutual aid was called in from Linden-Peters, two CalFire units, a water tender from Collegeville, firefighters and units from Escalon and two Stanislaus Consolidated units. The mutual aid coordinator for San Joaquin County was also on scene, along with a CalFire Battalion Chief, assisting in the effort.

“I assigned Escalon to the south side and they did a great job,” Bailey said. “Clements covered our fire station, Ripon covered Escalon … we had lots of help.”

Altogether, the Monday afternoon fire burned close to four acres.

“We don’t really know what caused it,” Bailey added. “It was a burn day. It started in the creek bottom but we weren’t able to determine the actual cause.”

More than two dozen firefighters were involved in the effort and Farmington crews had to return to the scene Tuesday morning, with a power pole burning inside, the flames eating the pole from the inside out. PG&E was called in and the problem was dealt with quickly, said Bailey.

“We got lucky, it didn’t jump across Henry Road,” the chief added. “It’s just nice when everybody works together.”

Residents are reminded to be very aware of fire dangers at this time of year. Any mowing should be done in the early morning and, if an area is overgrown with weeds, notify fire officials in that area so abatement procedures can be started.

Crews were on scene of the Monday fire for a few hours before getting the mop up completed.