It’s not the first time a fire broke out in Three Rivers after a bird landed on a transmission line, caught fire, and fell to the brush below to spark a hillside fire. In fact, the blaze that occurred on Thursday, May 25, shortly before 7 p.m., was in the same locale where a turkey vulture sparked a blaze in 2015.
The scenario plays out like this. A bird lands on a transmission line that is live, carrying more voltage than the typical residential connection. The jolt of electricity electrocutes the bird.
A spark arcs from the line into the bird, briefly interrupting the power to a wide area of homes and businesses. The ignited bird then falls from line into tinder-dry brush below.
This time, the brush fire quickly spread to the adjacent hillside and for a time threatened six nearby residences. Several retardant drops from the air tankers kept the flames from spreading to the nearby structures or inaccessible terrain.
Within minutes, multiple Cal Fire units and Tulare County units were on the scene, including Battalion 1, Water Tender 13, Patrol 14, Engine 13, and Patrol 11. They swiftly contained the May 25 blaze and kept watch for several hours afterward to ensure the fire was extinguished.
In the recent incident, a total of two acres burned and a potential disaster was averted.