Morgan Fire 90% Contained; Investigators Suspect Human Activity Sparked Blaze

September 12, 2013 15:30 pm · 10 comments


Crews are taming the Morgan Fire, which has charred an estimated 3,133 acres in and around Mount Diablo State Park since it started Sunday afternoon, Cal Fire officials said.

The fire was at 90% containment as of this morning, Cal Fire spokesman Steve Kaufmann said.

Fire crews expect to have the blaze completely contained by Friday, and today a “significant demobilization” of fire crews is planned, he said.

The fire started off of Morgan Territory Road near Mount Diablo State Park, southeast of Clayton, shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday. Since then, more than 1,370 fire personnel from more than a dozen agencies responded to the blaze.

Crews are focused on holding the perimeter around the blaze and ensuring that the winds that tend to blow through the area in the afternoon don’t cause any flare-ups, he said.

“Because the humidity is so low, we just want to make sure everything is out before we leave the area,” Kaufmann said. “We are being
extra cautious.”

Since grasses, trees and other fuel in the area were already dried out, the fire was able to spread much more quickly than it would have during a year with more rainfall, he said.

Both in the Morgan Fire and in wildfires throughout the state, he said, “We’re seeing fire behavior that’s super extraordinary, because it’s so dry and those fuel beds are so receptive to fire.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Capt. Robert Marshall said fire investigators have ruled out natural causes, such as lightning strikes.

Instead, investigators are looking into causes related to human activity, which can range from discarded cigarette butts and unattended campfires to a dragging chain on a vehicle sparking flames, Marshall said.

“There’s a million different things that could happen,” he said. Residents from about 100 houses that were threatened by the fire have been allowed to return home since evacuations were ordered Sunday.

Kaufmann said the Morgan Fire serves as a reminder that residents should be prepared to evacuate immediately in the event of a wildfire before crews arrive in their neighborhoods. Also important, he said, is for residents to secure their homes by closing all windows, doors and garages to prevent fire from spreading to the building.

“When fire is approaching neighborhoods, it’s real important for residents to make sure their houses are locked up tight,” he said.

Fire preparedness tips can be found on Cal Fire’s website at

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Mongoose September 12, 2013 at 4:03 PM

“Human activity caused blaze”…DUH.

anonanonagain September 12, 2013 at 4:11 PM

I hear that 85% of fires are caused by humans. Makes sense since most parks and forests are close to where humans live and play.
As I’ve griped on Claycord before, I still see many smokers discard their cigarette butts so casually from their vehicles and drop them when walking without a care in the world. Please THINK before you drop a lit butt…..

Cash September 12, 2013 at 4:21 PM

I saw a guy in a black Honda today driving along hanging his cigarette out the window. That could spark a roadside fire.

Truthman September 12, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Darn humans.

anon September 12, 2013 at 4:55 PM

It was caused by target practice.

Killjoy September 12, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Apparently, according to Cal Fire, the blaze was stared by someone target shooting.

I hope they find them, and charge them for the entire fire.
Response, and recovery.

commoncents September 12, 2013 at 5:21 PM

guns – the gift that keeps on “giving.”

Gator September 12, 2013 at 6:10 PM

They’ve ruled out ground squirrels and the alameda whipsnake?

minx September 12, 2013 at 6:12 PM

This sounds great-all that can be done is to hope it is contained.

Laura Zah September 12, 2013 at 8:57 PM

@#7 – It isn’t the tool at fault, it is the dumb ass who used it unsafely. Remember the Oakland Hills Fire? Did you complain about the weedeater that started it?

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