Correction: This story previously stated in error that the fires occurred at DMC Recycling. It has been updated with the correct location.
Recent fires have sparked spontaneously at Comgro Soil Amendments along the Frazier Lake extension at Shore Road, according to Hollister Fire Department Chief Bob Martin Del Campo.
The most recent fires at the location began on Jan. 17. After the fire was contained, it was rekindled on Jan. 19. The first call to respond to the fire went out at 7:48 a.m., according to data from PulsePoint.
“After we responded Sunday [Jan. 17], we were able to contain the fire, and at that point we turned it over to the business owner so they could extinguish it,” Martin Del Campo said. “This is his livelihood and he needs to be able to contain the fire.”
The fire chief said compost companies normally have state-authorized plans that include the ability to fight fires themselves. “It’s incumbent upon him to be able to exercise that plan. We’ll do as much as we can to minimize the fire, but this is still the business owner’s responsibility,” he said.
The Jan. 19 fire tasked the Hollister Fire Department beyond its on-duty equipment and personnel capabilities. Martin Del Campo said by 8:30 a.m. all city and county firefighting assets were out on calls and the department was unable to respond to a medical aid call on Hospital Road.
“Because of that, we had to do a callback with off-duty firefighters to come in to staff an engine,” he said. “American Medical Response went out by itself. Normally, we go in tandem with the medical transport company in the event you need more hands on the patient than just the paramedic.”
Martin Del Campo said he was delayed in responding to the North County fire because he was already covering another fire in South County on San Benito Lateral.
“Right now, we have four engines and two water tankers, and we’ve requested two more water tankers from Monterey County,” he said. “The state has suspended burning and has been at standby for high fire-danger weather, so we don’t know if we’ll be able to get that equipment.”
The fire chief advised that the fire was causing a “significant respiratory issue” because of the density of smoke being blown by high winds toward Hollister. “There will be poor air quality in this area that could affect those with asthma,” he said.
Because of the number of fires at the same location, county code enforcement and public works personnel, as well as Monterey Bay Air Quality enforcement, are investigating.
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