Fire in wild horse country sparked by chopping down juniper trees

Saw Spark Identified as Cause of Dodge Fire in the Twin Peaks HMA

SUSANVILLE, Calif. -Investigators have determined that a spark from a tree harvesting saw was the cause of the Dodge Fire that has burned about 11,000 acres of sagebrush, grass and juniper trees in a remote part of Lassen County, Calif.

The Bureau of Land Management determined that the spinning blade in a “feller-buncher” machine caused a spark, setting fire to dry grass. Workers were unable to quell the flames with available tools and equipment, and the fire spread quickly into tall sagebrush and junipers.

“We are examining all the evidence and information we have to determine whether there was any negligence,” said BLM Northern California District Manager Nancy Haug. “The contractor has been very cooperative in this investigation, and was a big help during the initial stages of the fire.” The BLM will issue a final report in the next several weeks.

The contractor was removing juniper trees as part of project to reduce the density of the tree stand, improving sage-steppe habitat important for wildlife, including the greater sage-grouse.

The fire started Monday, Aug. 3. Driven by wind and drought stressed fuels, it spread quickly. The blaze was 20 percent contained today, with full containment estimated for Aug. 11.

From a BLM press release