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UPDATE: Juveniles Started Explosive Martinez Fire That Burned Home, Multiple Vehicles

MARTINEZ (CBS SF) -- A two-alarm grass fire that triggered explosions, burned a home and about a half dozen vehicles in Martinez Wednesday afternoon was triggered by juveniles playing with fire, according to authorities.

The Contra Costa Fire Protection District Twitter account posted additional information about the cause of the destructive fire Wednesday evening. Authorities said the fire threatened a dozen homes in the area.

The juveniles were released to their parents, fire officials said.

The fire burned at a hilltop residence at Cambark Court just east of Interstate Highway 680, where drivers could see a large column of billowing smoke.

There were several explosions at the fire scene, which was spread across a lot where a number of vehicles were burning.

Jesus Perez, who lives near the burned home, told KPIX 5, "They had so many cars, things were so cluttered up there. It's devastating how quickly things like that could happen."

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) said the fire was confined to a structure and the surrounding property. An associated grass fire was extinguished and neighboring structures were all protected, Con Fire said.

"Our initial units on scene immediately called for more resources because the fire was perhaps being driven by the wind," Con Fire spokesperson Steve Hill told KPIX 5.

Hill adds the department has been preparing for fires like this one for the last year. With the extremely dry conditions and the wind, the goal is to keep fires from getting out of control by quickly throwing out as many available resources on them as possible.

As of 3:15 p.m. Con Fire tweeted the fire had been knocked down and firefighters were engaged in extensive mop-up operations.

The fire was directly under high-tension power lines and a tower. Winds blew through Martinez at around 20 mph at the time of the fire.

"At one point it just conducted the energy there and that is where your explosion came from," said Contra Costa County Fire Battalion Chief Vito Impastato. "As soon as that happened it de-energized lines."


No one was inside the home at the time of the fire, the fire department said.

There are no reports of any injuries.

Hill, the fire department spokesperson, said Wednesday's fire was a good reminder for residents to create a defensible space around their homes.

"We're expecting to have a challenging fire season so we are planning for the worst, hoping for the best." Hill said. "If we work together, we can get through this fire season."

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