Firefighters attack afternoon blaze scorching American River Parkway
A grass fire burned 176 acres along the American River Parkway and prompted the evacuation of Cal Expo on Thursday afternoon.
Sacramento Fire Department spokesman Chris Harvey reported about 5 p.m. that the fire was contained. A firefighter was taken to a hospital suffering from smoke inhalation shortly after the fire started. The firefighter was released from the hospital later in the day and is doing well, according to Fire Department officials.
Cal Expo spokeswoman Sabrina Rodriguez said two events – an RV show and rental housing association conference – were being held and had to shut down about 2 p.m. due to the fire. Rodriguez said event participants and staff members left the property. Cal Expo also moved its monorail trains as the fire was burning near the monorail barn.
Jim Lofgren, executive director of the Rental Housing Association of the Sacramento Valley, said about 1,000 people attending the association’s annual one-day conference were directed to leave Cal Expo. Rodriguez said the RV show was scheduled to run through the weekend and was expected to resume Friday.
The roadway from Cal Expo to the American River Parkway, normally reserved for bicyclists, strollers and joggers, was turned into a firetruck expressway Thursday afternoon. The parkway, usually filled with life and chatter, was quiet except for the crackle of fire and noise of helicopters.
Park rangers patrolled the area using loudspeakers to announce that the parkway was closed.
The Sacramento Fire Department initially reported the fire was burning primarily on the north side of the bike trail, but spotting on the south side. The fire moved north toward Cal Expo.
As of about 2 p.m., Harvey, reported that the fire had jumped a small fire road into taller brush. It also was burning near power lines, which were arcing. Pops could be heard on a Fire Department video, and Harvey said there might be some propane tanks burning in the area.
The wind picked up and blew the fire to the north and northeast.
As of about 2:45 p.m., the north end of the fire had burned up to the levee separating the parkway from Cal Expo. Harvey said firefighters were positioned along the levee to prevent the fire from spreading into Cal Expo and to protect buildings in the area.
A Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department helicopter assisted in the fire attack. Although power lines in the area made it difficult to perform water drops in some areas, Harvey said the helicopter crew was able to help guide firefighters on the ground.
Harvey said 130 firefighters responded to the fire. The Sacramento Fire Department was assisted by Metro Fire, West Sacramento and Cosumnes fire crews.