Cal Fire has released the cause of last month’s 11,429 acre Deer Fire in Tehama County, stating the fire was ignited when Mylar balloons came into contact with power lines.
The Deer Fire, which began August 23, burned thousands of acres approximately 12 miles east of Los Molinos. Cal Fire stated in a press release this afternoon the cause of the fire was determined to be a bouquet of Mylar balloons coming into contact with 500 kV transmission lines. According to the release, the balloons spanned across the transmission lines causing an electrical arc which melted the balloons and dropped burning material into the grass below.
Wayward Metallic Balloons Can Cause Major Inconveniences, Dangers-PG&E
Cal Fire noted for everyone to use caution when hosting or participating in outdoor activities since the fire threat remains high. They advise to keep balloons tethered at all times and attached to a weight. When disposing of Mylar balloons, make sure to puncture them to ensure any lingering helium doesn’t cause them to float away.
The fire spread rapidly in the days after the blaze was ignited because access to the fire in the steep terrain was difficult. Cal Fire crews were finally able to get an upper hand on the fire with the assistance of helicopters from the California National Guard.