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Fire started here

Cause remains under investigation
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A Cal Fire battalion chief confirmed Wednesday that the orgin of the fire was at a intersection of Rock Creek Road and Highway 49. However, officials do not yet know the cause of the fire. “This is where the fire started, but we don’t know how,” Bill Mendonca, Cal Fire battalion chief, told the Journal’s editor and publisher Wednesday. Mendonca was referring to a power pole on Highway 49 and the area surrounding it. Mendonca said it was a “process of elimination” to determine how the fire started. Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman Brian Swanson reiterated Wednesday that the cause is still undetermined. “PG& E is cooperating with Cal Fire and other public safety agencies to identify the cause,” Swanson said. Gerry Claflin reportedly snapped a picture of the pole in flames at about 2:50 p.m. Sunday while driving on Highway 49. MyAuburn user LoriGerkhardt posted the photo Monday. Jeff Brand, incident commander for the 49 Fire, said the fire started at about 2:22 p.m. Sunday. The blaze scorched 343 acres of land in North Auburn and destroyed 63 homes and three commercial buildings. In addition to three injuries, numerous household pets lost their lives in the fire. An additional three homes and six businesses received “major” damages. The fire was fully contained by Tuesday evening. ~ Jenifer Gee ---------- Anyone who took photos of a power pole on the east side of Highway 49 between 2:15 and 2:50 p.m. Sunday are asked to post photos on auburnjournal.com or send them to ajournal@goldcountrymedia.com. ----------