Officials are calling a small brush fire that broke out on the eastern slope of Pine Mountain in Atascadero Wednesday night suspicious and likely caused by one or more people.
The Atascadero Fire Department received a report of the fire at about 6:46 p.m. and about 28 firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze, which burned an area about 20 by 50 feet in size.No one was hurt and no property damaged.
On Thursday, Atascadero Fire Cpt. Bill White said investigators could not immediately find a reason why the fire started in the remote area.
White said that investigators are calling the fire suspicious after ruling out mechanical or natural causes as possible culprits. Trails in the area do not allow for off-highway vehicles, there is no overhead wiring on the mountain, and there were no reports of lightning.
Furthermore, he said, the day’s humidity significantly reduced the chances of the fire starting from a discarded cigarette, which he said is rare with hikers anyway.
“That leaves us with a human cause, which could be deliberate or accidental,” White said. “We see no other reason for a spontaneous combustion.”
He said the Atascadero Department of Emergency Service’s arson unit is continuing to investigate the fire.