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Steinegul Road Fire Impacts Air Quality


An early morning hay fire on Friday prompted an air advisory and kept Escalon firefighters busy at the scene for a few hours, making sure the fire didn’t spread to any buildings on the property.

Battalion Chief Chris Johnson said the fire, near the Lone Tree and Steinegul roads intersection, was in the 15000 block of Steinegul at a local dairy. The call came in about 4:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 12.

“When the hay gets wet and then gets heated up, it’s not uncommon,” Johnson said of the spontaneous combustion that consumed the bales of hay. “It burned approximately 100 tons of hay.”

Escalon Fire responded with both an engine and a water tender to the scene, and called in an additional water tender from Stanislaus County. They also had about eight firefighters on scene.

A smoky haze from the fire greeted residents in the surrounding areas on Friday morning and resulted in the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issuing an advisory on Friday afternoon.

The statement was for smoke impacts throughout southeastern San Joaquin County and northeastern Stanislaus County.

“While measures were taken to contain the fire, smoke is impacting parts of Oakdale and Riverbank, and may reach other area communities into Saturday,” the statement indicated.

Smoke from fires produces fine-particulate matter (PM2.5), which can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.

The smoke had dissipated by Saturday afternoon, though Johnson said the property owner kept a watch on the bales, which were expected to smolder for a few days following the initial fire.

“There was active fire in the hay bales,” Johnson said of when firefighters first arrived on the scene south of Lone Tree Road before dawn on Friday. “We separated the burned hay from the unburned; some people from other dairies in the area came in with equipment and helped move the good hay to a safe area.”

And while Johnson said the fire was “never was really out of control,” it did adversely impact the air quality. It did not, though, pose a threat to any structures on the property.

Residents can check the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s wildfire page at for information about any current wildfires and whether they are impacting the Valley.

For more information, visit or call a District office in Fresno (559-230-6000), Modesto (209-557-6400) or Bakersfield (661-381-1809).

Escalon Fire reported back in service from the event about 11 a.m. Friday, spending several hours on the scene.