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Cal Fire, Landowner Disagree On Cause Of Herald Hay Blaze

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HERALD (CBS13) – Some 900 tons of hay continued to burn on Friday in Herald as firefighters and the landowner disagreed on what caused the fire.

“This is very unusual, had a couple before, but this is very large scale, very unusual for us,” Calfire’s Charlie Blankenheim said.

Cal Fire says it attributes the cause to spontaneous combustion, but propery owner Gary Silva disagrees. He thinks it was arson.

“If it happened in the first couple weeks of being bailed I think it might be spontaneous combustion. These bails have been here a month or more,” he said. “They had to be lit.”

Silva’s convinced this was intentional.

“A witness saw some flames come out of the inside, and it was totally engulfed in five minutes,” he said. “He saw the fire, a little bit of flame, it just went poof, but it started from the center of the stack.”

Cal Fire monitored the scene most of the morning Friday and by 8:30 the heavy lifting began in an attempt to fully contain the fire.

“We got a bulldozer here this morning, and we’re going to start pushing the pile, spreading it out,” Blankenheim said. “We got two hand crews coming down, we’ll have about 30 or 40 guys out here starting digging through it. The bulldozer will spread it out, start digging through it and putting water on it.”

Also with the weather changing, the wind has played a factor, but the cooler conditions are helping.

“The cool weather is going to help us get more work done,” he said.

Originally, Cal Fire says it was going to let this burn out over the next several days , but it appears that firefighters are going to get a real handle and end try to end it Friday.

Silva said the hay was worth more than $100,000.

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