Stubborn East Bay peat fire contained, but still producing smoke after 6 weeks

Stubborn East Bay peat fire contained, but still producing smoke after 6 weeks

Stubborn East Bay peat fire contained, but still producing smoke after 6 weeks
Hand crews attack areas of the Marsh fire where the ground is too soft for larger fire fighting apparatus. (Photo courtesy CCCFPD)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (July 12, 2022) — Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) has provided details regarding a peat fire that has been burning since May 28 in the waterfront areas of Bay Point and Pittsburg.

The original fire began the early afternoon of May 28 in a homeless encampment near Suisun and Solano Avenues in Bay Point that burned to approximately 200 acres. The homeless encampment was completely consumed by the No injuries were reported.

The May 28 fire occurred in a largely inaccessible area with no structures or inhabitants and created a lingering and stubborn fire that has burned in the marsh since that date.

The fire burned into large amounts of peat in the area throughout the ensuing six weeks, consuming additional vegetation and intermittently producing noticeable smoke, depending on weather conditions, but still threatening no structures or lives.

Flare up

On Saturday, July 9, driven by wind, the peat fire flared up extending into adjacent grassy areas of Pittsburg, threatening overhead high-voltage PG&E transmission lines and nearby decommissioned industrial sites.

In spite of high winds at the scene, an overwhelming response from Con Fire, aided by Cal Fire, resulted in the fire being contained before it could extend into neighboring homes.

Con Fire requested mutual aid from Cal Fire for water-dropping Due to the threat to PG&E infrastructure, this request was granted.

Before it was contained, the fire consumed an additional 74 acres, bringing the total area consumed by the fires to approximately 500 As of July 11, the Marsh Fire is contained and continues to smolder in inaccessible areas of the Bay Point and Pittsburg waterfront.

Peat fires are notoriously stubborn, can be virtually impossible to extinguish, and are often left, for lack of alternatives, to burn themselves out.

Still smoking

As of Tuesday, the remaining peat fire is producing significant smoke but presenting little fire danger to the surrounding It is NOT threatening structures. No evacuations are anticipated, as a result. The Fire has consumed most of the fuel adjacent to the community, increasing the margin of safety that would otherwise present a fire risk.

The property owner has been cooperative, hiring contractors to mow and disk hundreds of acres to eliminate hazardous fuels.

PG&E also provided resources to support the operation in the form of infrastructure protection teams and a large water-dropping helicopter.

The Department shares resident concerns regarding the smoke and are aggressively pursuing additional remedies for the situation with city and county officials, other jurisdictions, the property owner, and multiple regulatory agencies, in an attempt to mitigate the situation as soon as possible.

Con Fire continues to monitor the fire scene and is prepared to immediately address any flare ups that may occur.

They have coordinated with Contra Costa Health Services to monitor air quality in the fire area and, as a result, CCHS issued a health advisory late on July 11.

For information on protecting yourself and your family from smoke, please visit org/wildfire-smoke/