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Fire Chars More Than Half Of Northern California Island

November 29, 1992

BRADFORD ISLAND, Calif. (AP) _ Firefighters on Sunday contained a blaze that charred more than half of a 2,000-acre island in the Sacramento River Delta. But they warned the fire could smoulder in the peat soil indefinitely.

The blaze began Saturday, and 29-mph wind spread it quickly through the area’s rich vegetation. The wind died Sunday

The fire covered 1,200 acres and destroyed a travel trailer, but no injuries were reported. The cause was unknown.

About 20 of the island’s 30 to 50 residents fled their homes Saturday, but were allowed to return Sunday afternoon.

The island, an agricultural and recreation area, is about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco.

The fire could smoulder indefinitely, said Jack Crissman, a firefighter from nearby Bethel Island.

″It’s burning peat,″ he said of the soil’s decaying vegetation. ″It’s a wildfire above ground and a wildfire below ground.

″It can pop up anywhere. ... It can burrow in the soil for miles and pop up in Timbuktu,″ he said.

Homeowners can open floodgates and douse part of the island with water in an effort to drown the fire underground, said Joe McMurtrey, a Bethel Island fire captain.

The mushy peat soil prevented firefighters from taking heavy equipment off the island’s few roads. Boat-mounted pumps were used to supply fire trucks because the island has no fire hydrants.

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