A pile of tires on the former Medici Logging property south of Westwood burns Tuesday evening, June 11. Photo submitted

Suspicious Westwood tire fire under investigation

The cause of a fire in a pile of tires near Westwood is under investigation according to Zach Hollister, a captain with Cal Fire in Westwood. It is suspicious, he said. The call was received at 8:21 p.m. Tuesday, June 11. It reported a fire on the former Medici Logging property south of Westwood.

Westwood Fire Chief Forest Duerksen said when firefighters arrived about 25 percent of a 60 by 80 foot pile of tires was on fire. They laid 2,000 feet of supply line from the hydrant at First and Fir Streets over the railroad tracks to the fire.

The tire fire was put out with a combination of water and foam with more than 100,000 gallons of water and 20 buckets of foam used, said Hollister. Because the fire hose stretched across the railroad tracks a representative from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad was called to the scene and the Cal Fire command center remained in contact with the railroad in order to know when trains were approaching. If firefighters were at a point where the water could be shut down and supply lines disconnected, the trains went through, otherwise they waited to pass.

A ladder truck from the Chester Fire Department was used to shoot water directly down into the pile. Also a bulldozer from Cal Fire was brought in to use if spot fires occurred.

By 3 a.m. June 12, the fire was in check and emitting less smoke. Later that morning an excavator was brought in from Dig It Construction to dig into the pile so more water and foam could be applied. By 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 12 there was no longer heat or smoke coming from the pile. A thermal imaging camera was used to verify the fire was out, said Hollister. Cal Fire continued to monitor the tires for three days. About half the pile of tires burned.

Responding to the emergency call were Cal Fire with one engine, two hand crews, two battalion chiefs and one prevention officer; the Westwood Fire Department with two engines; Clear Creek, Hamilton Branch, Peninsula and Chester each with one engine; West Almanor Fire Department with one water tender and a breathable air unit; and Susan River with one water tender.

During the incident law enforcement assisted fire crews by closing streets that accessed the fire and protecting the fire hydrant used to supply water. They were the Lassen County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol. Also assisting were the Lassen County Road Department and Westwood Community Services District.