Police / Fire

Downed power lines spark fire near Pinnacles National Park

Forward progress of the blaze was halted within a half-hour, with no structures reported damaged

A quick response to a rangeland fire on the east side of Highway 25 a few miles north of Pinnacles National Monument contained the blaze to approximately four acres on Monday afternoon. Fire officials believe downed power lines caused by a falling tree or branch sparked the fire, which was near the Smith Ranch.

Capt. Richard Brechbuehl of CalFire's Bear Valley fire station told BenitoLink that an eight- to 10-mile-per-hour wind "definitely" was a concern for crews, as "that makes controlling the fire pretty tough." Some structures, including Bear Valley School, were threatened, but no damage was reported to any of them.

Brechbuehl was the front seat captain of a CalFire helicopter that responded to the blaze, which was about a two-mile flight from the station, which is north of Pinnacles on Airline Highway. He said the fire, which was reported at 2:33 p.m., was contained within a half-hour. More specifically, he said forward progress of the fire was stopped within the first 30 minutes and it was expected to be fully under control before sunset Monday.

"They're still out there mopping it up," he said at 6:15 p.m. Monday.

The crews responding to the fire included two air attack planes, two air tankers, three helicopters, two bulldozers, two crews and approximately eight engines. Hollister city firefighters also responded, Brechbuehl said.

Adam Breen

Adam Breen has been a San Benito County resident since 1980 and graduated from Sacred Heart School and San Benito High School before earning a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. A father of two sons, Adam has taught newspaper, English and yearbook at SBHS for the past decade, after six years as a magazine editor for Santa Clara University. He previously was editor of the Hollister Free Lance and content director for BenitoLink.