The grass fire, which started at 11:52 a.m., was sparked by a machine harvesting hay at Beltrans Farms, according to Chief Steve Hall of West Stanislaus County Fire Protection District.The land was being leased to a Turlock dairyman, and the equipment was owned by an outside harvesting company, according to Fred Beltran of Beltran Farms. Beltran was not sure of the cost of damage.
Crews from West Stanislaus and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection extinguished the blaze in about 25 minutes, Hall said.
Twelve volunteer firefighters from the West Stanislaus County Fire Protection District and about 10 Cal Fire firefighters with the Santa Clara Unit, which covers fires from the Altamont Pass to Los Banos, responded to the blaze, using a water tender, a bulldozer and hoses attached to their engines.
While the fire was small, it was the first of the 2013 wildfire season, which officially started Monday, April 15, and expected to continue until Oct. 15.
A dry winter, followed by recent high winds, which can quickly dry out vegetation, promise challenges for firefighters later in the spring and summer, Hall said.
“We’re looking at a potentially serious fire season,” Hall said.
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