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'Suspicious' fire near Palermo chars 60 acres

By Colin Steiner, csteiner@krcrtv.com
Published On: Jan 01 2014 08:06:48 PM CST
'Suspicious' fire near Palermo chars 60 acres
PALERMO, Calif. -

Fire officials are calling a 60 acre blaze Wednesday morning south of Palermo "suspicious."

The fire to the west of Palermo-Honcut Highway and south of Cox Lane was called in around 10:45 a.m.

Five fire engines and one water tender responded and had the fire out within a couple of hours.

CALFIRE Battalion Chief Russ Fowler said someone told firefighters on the scene that they witnessed a "suspicious person" walking away from where the fire started. That and the location and timing of the fire are why officials have said it was intentionally set.

"There's no other reason for this fire to really start here," said Fowler. "There's no power lines over the fire, no lightning, it's not next to a roadway, there's no control burns in the area. There's no reason for this fuel to burn today except for something that would be somewhat suspicious."

The witness was unable to give an accurate description of the person seen near where the blaze began.

2013 turned out to have had the lowest amount of rainfall in recorded California history, so conditions were very dry.

"Burning 60 acres on January first is really an anomaly, we just don't have that occur," said Fowler.

This is the third vegetation fire in Butte County in as many days.