Union Democrat staff

Cal Fire has released the cause of a trio of recent grass fires, and arae warning area residents about the use of fireworks this week.

The Reed Fire in San Andreas, which burned 109 acres and destroyed two structures, was caused by a "grinding operation," defined by Cal Fire staff as the cutting or grinding of metal.

Grinding was also the cause of the Oak Fire on Pool Station Road near Copperopolis, which burned 88 acres and destroyed one structure, and the Rawhide Fire on Rawhide Road near Jamestown, which burned one acre.

"These metal-on-metal activities produced a large amount of sparks that landed in dry vegetation and started these three fires," said Cal Fire Capt. Brenton Brown.

The cause of Wednesday's fire next to Highway 108 in Sonora is still under investigation, he said.

State law requires any operation of any equipment that can produce a spark in vegetation covered areas to have a minimum 10-foot clearance of all flammable vegetation and to have a shovel and "backpack pump water-type fire extinguisher."

Projects should preferably be done in the early morning hours, moved inside or delayed, if possible, Brown said.

California has experienced record-breaking low rainfall, low humidity and low fuel-moisture levels this year.

Recent fires indicate vegetation is much more susceptible to ignition and are burning hotter and faster than normal, Cal Fire said.

For the full story, see the June 30, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.