Reporting Anjali Hemphill
STOCKTON (CBS13) — Fire crews on Friday investigated the cause of a massive blaze at a Stockton recycling plant that’s blamed for sparking 18 spot fires.
Drivers along Interstate 5 on Thursday reported seeing hot embers carried by winds gusting over 40 mph from the fire.
Crews say those embers sparked around 18 other spot fires in the area, prompting all nearby firefighters to respond.
“The county was pretty strapped yesterday for resources,” said Assistant Fire Chief Fred Manding.
They believe embers also burned down a home more than two miles away from the center, off of Fairmont Avenue.
“The conditions we had yesterday were almost like in Southern California—they have the Santa Ana winds—and if you know the history of those fires, they’ll push embers miles away,” said Manding.
Jaime Alvarez says his 14-year-old niece and two younger nephews were home when the back of their house caught fire. They made it out just in time.
“We are quite a ways from the paper mill. How does something like that happen?” he said.
Alvarez says his brother’s home is a total loss, as is a small outbuilding on the property next door.
But other homes nearby weren’t damaged.
“Just bad luck,” Manding said. “Wrong place, wrong time.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.