SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – People are being allowed inside of Cal Expo to watch tonight’s fireworks display, after a fire burned dangerously close to the park.
According to a statement from Cal Expo, cars were allowed to park in lots C and D and people were let into the grandstands. Just hours ago, thick smoke hung in the air and chances of the show happening did not look good.
At around 6:30 p.m., fire crews said the fire was 100% contained. Firefighters will stay out at the area of the fire into Saturday morning as they continue to mop up.
The fire started around 2:14 p.m. in an area known as Bushy Lake and burned several acres of vegetation south of Cal Expo, according to a fire official.
Members of the public and staffers at Cal Expo, including those at the water park, were evacuated because of smoke, and the evening’s Sacramento Republic FC soccer game was canceled. Tickets that were sold will be honored at a later game. Team officials say Sunday’s friendly match will not be canceled.
Two palm trees at Cal Expo were also burned.
“The flames were definitely several hundred feet tall. These are oak trees that are well over 100 feet. They just basically became Roman candles. This was a very explosive fire,” said Padilla. “At one point it wasn’t about extinguishing the fire, it was about getting people out if the way.”
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The fire quickly grew, fanned on by uncommonly hot and dry conditions that we usually see in late August or early September, he said.
“I don’t think this kind of fire behavior has ever been seen here. We’ve had them, but they’re usually contained to just two, three, four fires. Occasionally you get your 100-acre grass fire, but this was not a grass fire. This was a full-blown wildland fire,” said Padilla.
Forty acres burned and nearly 200 firefighters and 40 units were on the scene trying to put out hot spots and contain the blaze.
The fireworks show scheduled for 9:30 p.m. will happen as planned. Officials were initially reluctant to allow spectators into the park, citing health concerns brought on by smoke from the waning fire. However, at around 7:30, Cal Expo announced lots C and D were open and people were being seated in the grandstands.
Firefighters will be in the area throughout the night putting out hot spots.
Approximately 10 vehicles were reportedly scorched by the fire, but no structures were damaged.