CAL FIRE announced that law enforcement investigators concluded a faulty gas water heater sparked one of the fires that merged to become the Rocky Fire, one of 16 active wildfires in the state as of Aug. 19, 2015.

Faulty Water Heater Sparked California Wildfire

The Rocky Fire, one of 16 active wildfires in the state as of Aug. 19, began July 29 and burned nearly 70,000 acres during the following 16 days, destroying 43 homes and 53 outbuildings and forcing more than 13,000 residents to evacuate.

CAL FIRE – the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – announced Aug. 19 that law enforcement officers have determined that a faulty gas water heater sparked a fire that merged with a second blaze to become the Rocky Fire. This fire began July 29 and burned nearly 70,000 acres during the following 16 days, destroying 43 homes and 53 outbuildings and forcing more than 13,000 residents to evacuate. The fire was fully contained on Aug. 14.

The water heater was inside an outbuilding that contained flammable liquids. The outbuilding fire caught nearby vegetation on fire, and the flames quickly spread to the surrounding area, according to CAL FIRE's news release. The circumstances surrounding how the fire started remain under investigation, as is the cause of the second fire.

The agency's Aug. 19 statewide fire summary said 16 active wildfires continue to burn in California and more than 10,000 firefighters are battling them. "With temperatures returning to a more seasonable, normal level, firefighters are hoping that the will be able to continue making good progress on the numerous wildfires burning in California. In Southern California westerly winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph will surface across the Kern County Mountains, Antelope Valley, Banning Pass. And the eastern side of the Cleveland National Forest. While temperatures will begin to be cooler statewide, very warm and dry conditions will maintain an elevated threat for large fire across the foothills and mountains," it said.

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