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Turkey Vulture Sparks Martinez Wildfire After Shorting Out Between Power Lines

MARTINEZ (CBS SF) -- A wildfire sparked by a turkey vulture that caught fire after shorting out two power lines according to a witness burned parts of an RV and two properties in Martinez Tuesday morning, causing an estimated $80,000 in damage, a fire official said.

Firefighters responded at 10:42 a.m. to the vegetation fire in the 800 block of Howe Road, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Inspector Steve Aubert said.

The witness told KPIX 5's Don Ford that he saw the large turkey vulture short out between two power lines.  When the bird began to burn, it started the brush fire.

"Yeah, I just saw this giant bird sitting there and it just, blew up.  I looked over and saw a flaming bird falling to the ground," Danny Wiseman said.

"If you ever seen a transformer blow up, it was just like that, except it was a bird," Wiseman said.

Roughly 10 minutes later, witnesses reported a fire was burning a fence and deck at a home in the 2400 block of Morello Heights Circle, Aubert said.

The fire burned a fence, an RV parked at the side of one house and caused minor damage at the home and burned the decking and fence at another home, according to Aubert.

Firefighters brought the fire contained shortly before noon and Aubert said fire crews had the blaze extinguished around 1 p.m.

Roughly an acre of vegetation also burned, he said.

No injuries were reported.

The official cause of the fire is still under investigation.

TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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