USA — Two people were seriously injured in a fire near the reclamation ditch off Casentini and North Main streets Wednesday morning, according to Salinas Fire Department officials at the scene.
The victims, who were living in a shelter constructed out of old Christmas trees, have not been identified. The fire was probably caused by lit cigarettes, said Salinas fire Battalion Chief Herb Shoemaker.
Any open flame or spark can set off a fire with all this dry grass around, Shoemaker said. It makes for very dangerous fire conditions.
Both were taken by air ambulance to the Regional Burn Center at Valley Medical Center in Santa Clara. A woman had burns over most of her body and possible lung damage from smoke inhalation, Shoemaker said. She was listed in critical condition Wednesday afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said. A man suffered severe burns to his face and body from the waist up, Shoemaker said. His condition was not available Wednesday afternoon.
The call reporting the fire came in at 10:47 a.m., and officials were on the scene within minutes, according to Shoemaker. The incident seemed unrelated to multiple grass fires started near Natividad Creek earlier this season; those were all likely started by one individual, he said.
There have been several fires throughout the city in the last week alone, Shoemaker said. Lack of rain and dry grass along ditches create a significant fire hazard.
This winter is the driest Ive seen in 20 years, he said. These conditions are as dry as it gets.