A faulty vehicle exhaust system sparked the Saddle Fire late Monday afternoon in Butte County, according to fire officials.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced the cause Thursday afternoon. As of Friday afternoon, the fire was reported to be 70 percent contained, with 850 acres burned.
Officials said five fires started on Pentz Road near Lime Saddle Road about 4:30 p.m. Monday and rapidly grew in size. The fire burned on both sides of the west branch of the Feather River, destroying three structures, threatening 300 others and prompting evacuations. The evacuations were lifted Wednesday evening.
“This is a stark reminder of how easily a fire can start in the tinder-dry vegetation,” Cal Fire Chief Darren Read, said in a written statement. “We want to remind all vehicle owners to keep their vehicles in sound mechanical condition. Poorly operating vehicles are a risk to everyone.”
Investigators thanked local residents for their assistance in the investigation.