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Holtville fire under investigation as hot spots burn

August 29, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

HOLTVILLE — A river-bottom blaze here that 52 firefighters from throughout the Imperial Valley and Mexicali worked to extinguish Monday remained under investigation today as crews were on scene to stop a small flare-up.

The fire ravaged a stretch of the Alamo River area and spread across Alamo Road, threatening some structures before firefighters got the upper hand.

Holtville Fire Chief Charles Cariveau said the blaze erupted about noon and firefighters were on scene until midnight trying to extinguish the fire.

He said this morning there was another flare-up in the area and he had units on scene to control the rekindling.

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Cariveau activated the mutual aid fire system in the Imperial Valley and asked for response to a four-alarm blaze. He said the fire likely could have been handled with a second-alarm response, but the summer heat made conditions difficult for firefighting crews.

"We were using our guys up pretty quick," he said.

Cariveau said one firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion, and other firefighters came close to suffering from exhaustion and had to be pulled off fighting the fire for breaks.

There were no other injuries reported.

Initially, Holtville and Imperial County fire crews responded to the blaze. They were followed by El Centro, Calexico and more crews from the county as a second-alarm was called.

Later, crews from the Westmorland, Calipatria, Ocotillo, Brawley and Mexicali fire departments and from Centinela and Calipatria state prisons helped battle the fire.

Monday's fire came less than a week after another blaze in the same area along the Alamo River. Cariveau said he does not think Monday's fire was a rekindling of the Aug. 22 blaze.

Between the two fires, he said about 60 acres were burned.

He said both fires are under investigation. When asked if either fire is thought to be arson, Cariveau responded he could not say yet.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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