Reporting Ian Schwartz
FAIRFIELD (CBS13) — Families came back to see what was left after a grass fire tore through a Fairfield neighborhood, destroying five homes and damaging 10 more.
Homeowners think dead brush along the side of Interstate 80 fueled the flames, but who is responsible for maintaining that land?
The wind pushed the fire fast, but the dry brush behind the homes gave plenty for the fire to feed on.
If you didn’t know any better, you would think these flames were eating up homes in a forest community. But this large fire tore down a city street in the middle of the afternoon.
“It’s like I’m dreaming. I’m living in a dream world right now. Like this is unreal.”
Unreal that a small grass fire on the side of Interstate 80 jumped the wall, hopped into nearby trees, and then onto homes.
Birdette Shields is one of the lucky ones. His home has smoke damage, but it’s still standing.
“We just thank God we didn’t end up like that, or some of the other folks.”
Firefighters say Shields had great defensible space space around his home with no dry brush or dead trees close to the house.
“It made it easier for people to get in there and put the fire out on his fence and not allow it to extend into his house,” said Fairfield Battalion Chief Bob Stoffel.
But behind his yard, Shields says there’s a strip of land that he doesn’t own. It was filled with fuel the fire fed on—large trees that possibly sent wind-thrown embers to other homes and started other fires.
Shields and others here want to know who owns those trees and why they weren’t trimmed or removed.
“These old eucalyptus trees, my neighbor had been calling the city, every one about getting them cut down, that’s what her son just told me.”