BUTTE COUNTY — A fire near Palermo, about 30 minutes north of Marysville, quickly spread beyond 500 acres Tuesday afternoon.
Cal Fire says the fire began off 4 Junes Way and the Palermo-Honcut Highway. It was dubbed the Junes Fire.
— CAL FIRE Butte Unit/Butte County Fire Department (@CALFIRE_ButteCo) October 30, 2018
For Brent Duggins and his Palermo neighbors, the fire was the closest of close calls.
“It could have got a hold of a couple structures or something with this wind, oh man,” Duggins said.
The fire that threatened homes and ranches in the Butte County community broke out around 2 p.m.
The cause is under investigation but one thing that’s known for sure is the fire had all the ingredients it needed to take off running.
“We haven’t had any rain in the area. So the winds and the low relative humidity really increased the fire’s spread,” said Cal Fire Capt. Joe Chavez. “It went from zero to 50 acres very rapidly and then 50 acres to 100 acres, and so on. We were able to get the resources out in front though and stop the forward progress.”
But Duggins and some of his neighbors had already done their part.
“I mean, we have cows out here year round. We spray Roundup. We make sure that we get the vegetation eaten down, you know?” Duggins said.
Keeping the grass low around their homes made firefighters’ jobs a little easier.
“Just a little prevention goes a long way,” Duggins said.
Cal Fire and surrounding agencies were staffed up and ready for the firefight, with resources strategically placed because of Red Flag conditions in the area.
“We hit it with air tankers, helicopters, fire engines, bulldozers, water tenders. We threw everything at it,” Chavez said.
Cooperation between landowners and firefighters prevented this fire from becoming a major disaster.
“Thank God, right? Blows it right through the thing and right in between everybody’s houses. How much luckier can you get?” Duggins told FOX40.
At the end of Tuesday, the fire was mostly out. But the incident makes it clear — fire season is far from over.
“You saw how fast it expanded. It’s up to 550 acres and they’ve caught it,” said Scott McLean with Cal Fire. “The forward spread has stopped, of course. But this is up and down the state right now as what we could possibly see.”