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Unrelated fires keep Calipatria crews on alert

August 28, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — A brush fire that burned about 20 acres here, two separate car fires and a fire assistance call kept this city's Fire Department busy throughout most of the day.

Fire Chief Chris Hall said, "Yesterday was a pretty busy day for all the fire departments in the Imperial Valley, including us."

Hall said the department received a call about 6:30 p.m. regarding a brush fire near Albright and Dale roads southwest of the city.

He said Calipatria firefighters responded with only one engine because two of the department's engines were already at a river-bottom fire in Holtville, but county fire crews from Niland, Brawley and Westmorland assisted the Calipatria department. Calipatria State Prison fire crews showed up to assist after they were released from the Holtville fire.

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"That was nice of them because they didn't have to do that," said Hall.

"Also, the Red Cross brought some water, Gatorade and some snacks and that was really appreciated," Hall added.

Hall said fire officials are not sure how the fire started but they are classifying it as suspicious. The area that was burned borders a state wildlife area.

Calipatria fire crews arrived back at the station about 12:35 this morning.

Before going to the brush fire, city fire crews were called to two car fires.

The first car fire was about noon on Rutherford Road an Kershaw Road south of the city.

The car was being towed to a scrap yard when the car's brakes locked and sparks caused the car to catch fire. The tow truck driver quickly disconnected the vehicle so his truck would not be damaged.

The second car fire was at 1:20 p.m. near the intersection of Rutherford and Best roads just north of Brawley, where a van carrying 16 people caught fire.

Hall was not sure how the fire ignited but said the 16 occupants ran from the vehicle, so no one was injured.

The Brawley Fire Department is heading the investigation into the second car fire. A Brawley fire official said it is suspected the van was transporting illegal immigrants.

Information on the whereabouts of the occupants was unavailable this morning.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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