A wildfire that burned more than 100 square miles of forest in Northern California for about two weeks this summer was sparked by a malfunctioning water heater, state fire investigators said Wednesday. Flammable liquids were inside the building, causing the structure to catch on fire.
Cal Fire says while the water heater is the cause, the circumstances surrounding the fire are still under investigation.
The agency put at least five highly-trained, expert investigators on the case, Cal Fire information officer Mike Mohler said. The area where that fire originated has not been released. The Jerusalem fire started northeast of Middletown on August 9, just as an army of firefighters was gaining control of the massive Rocky fire nearby, which had been burning for 11 days and has now reached 69,438 acres in size.
More than 13,000 residents were under evacuation at the fire’s peak, and 7,500 homes were threatened, Cal Fire stated.
The Rocky fire started July 29 west of Lower Lake.
The fire was fully contained on August 14. It burned close, eventually spreading to land already scorched by Rocky, but the cause of the Jerusalem Fire remains under investigation.
As of Tuesday evening, Cal Fire reported that the Jerusalem Fire is 95 percent contained, with 25,118 acres consumed.