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County blaze stifled

Legal fireworks were responsible for starting a 15-acre wildfire Monday evening on a dry, grassy hill in southern Nevada County, authorities said Tuesday.

Reported at 6:02 p.m., the fire – off Lime Kiln Road, about half a mile west of Old Pond Lane – was contained by 6:30 p.m. Firefighters responded from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Nevada County Consolidated, Higgins Area and Grass Valley fire departments.

“The fire was determined to be arson-caused, with ‘Safe and Sane’ fireworks the cause of the ignition,” a Nevada County Consolidated report stated.



No homes were damaged and none were in immediate danger of the fire, said Mike Bishop, an engineer with the Higgins Area Fire Protection District.

Both air tankers stationed at the Nevada County Air Attack Base and an air attack “spotter” plane, as well as two helicopters, also responded to the blaze and kept it in check. Firefighters remained at the scene all day Tuesday to make sure the fire did not re-ignite.




A lookout at the Wolf Mountain tower was one of the first to report the growing blaze, which likely started alongside the road, Bishop said.

“If (the firework) was dropped, or if someone threw it out of a car – that has not been determined,” he said.

CDF Capt. Specialist Mark Koenig said he does not believe a pedestrian was responsible.

Although the firework was a “safe and sane” one, it was still illegally used. Fireworks are not allowed in the unincorporated areas of the county, outside the Grass Valley and Nevada City city limits. Fireworks also have not been allowed within the cities’ limits since July 6.

Those caught with fireworks can be cited, be charged with a misdemeanor and have the fireworks confiscated.

Generally, people suspected of starting wildland fires, such as this one, may face criminal charges, Koenig said. If they are found guilty of starting fires, they could be required to cover the costs of fighting the fire.

“Hopefully, the community, if they know how the fire got started, will call me,” Koenig said.

Koenig can be reached at 889-0111, ext. 121.


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