USA — A wind-fueled wildfire destroyed or damaged at least 230 vacant homes that were slated for demolition at Travis Air Force Base, officials said Sunday.
The number of burned homes in the blaze that scorched 12.4 acres of the base was nearly double as many as originally thought.
The eight-alarm blaze started as a grass fire in a vacant field at 600 Parker Road in Fairfield’s city limits about 3 p.m. Saturday, and then quickly spread.
Strong winds pushed the fire along a fence, onto the adjacent northwest side of the base and into a 68-acre subdivision with 400 vacant homes that were scheduled to be demolished.
Travis Air Force Base Major Vanessa Hillman said that 300 of the houses were threatened by the fire, and it appeared in Sunday’s aftermath that 230 were burned.
The fire did not require the evacuation of any of the occupied housing on the base. However, air base officials did order residents on the base to stay indoors with windows closed in order to protect themselves from the smoke.
“It was a large fire,” Senior Airman Shaun Emery observed. “There was lots of smoke.”
There were sustained 30 mph winds with 40 mph gusts in the area, which made the fire extremely difficult to control.
As a result, fire crews pulled back Saturday evening and let the vacant homes burn, while keeping the fire from spreading to the wildland outside the subdivision.
Firefighters also established structure protection and saved an elementary school, a chapel and a youth center.
“The fire was contained and isolated to the abandoned housing area,” said Airman Kristin Rohrer. “Fire personnel were going from house-to-house to put out any remaining fire.”
Over 217 firefighters battled the blaze, which was finally reported extinguished on Sunday morning, according to the Solano County Sheriff’s Office.
Air Force fire crews were aided by the Fairfield Fire Department and fire units from a half dozen Bay Area counties.
“We couldn’t be happier with the support we have received from the local community,” said Air Force Col. Mark Dillon, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander. “Their support helped limit the damage and bring this fire under control.”
No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remained under investigation.
Electricity – which was cut off during the fire – had been restored to the base on Sunday, although some buildings still were without gas.
Travis Air Force Base is located about 38 miles southwest of Sacramento.