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Biomass fire may burn thru Saturday

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POSTED May 21, 2015 11:11 p.m.

TRACY — Efforts to extinguish the biomass fire in Tracy that is making air quality poor in Lathrop, Manteca and Ripon are continuing with officials hoping to have it out by Saturday.

Tracy Fire Department on Sunday responded to a fire at Agra Marketing, LLC located the corner of South Tracy Boulevard and Sugar Road.

 Fire crews extinguished the fire, however, the following day crews were dispatched again to a second incident at the same location. Fire crews remained on scene for 35 consecutive hours until the morning hours of Tuesday, May 19. Significant amounts of water, in excess of 500,000 gallons, were used in an attempt to control the fire. 

Due to high winds, on May 19 a separate fire occurred in open space just east of the fire at Agra Marketing. Fire department personnel responded with two engines, a brush unit and a water-tender to extinguish the 40-acre fire. No structures or property were lost as a result of the open space fire. 

The ag product burning at the Agra Marketing site is green waste and orchard grindings. The company specializes in agricultural by-product storage and solar drying. Fires involving agricultural by-products are difficult to extinguish due to their density and heavy volume. Although smoldering piles remain, the amount of burning material has diminished significantly. The material is also continually being transported off-site to a biomass energy facility in Stockton. 

“The City remains in continuous contact with Agra Marketing to assess any fire code violations and address them through the corrective process to gain compliance,” stated David Bramell, Fire Division Chief. “The priority at this time is to extinguish the fire completely and ensure proper compliance to minimize any future risk.” 

With the initial emergency contained, the agricultural by-product fire burning at the Agra Marketing site has been turned over to the company. Agra Marketing has hired a private company, LR Varwig & Sons to assist with extinguishing the nuisance. They have acquired several water trucks and heavy equipment to spread the ag material and extinguish the fire. 

The City of Tracy shares the public’s concern regarding the fire’s impact to health and safety. San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District advises residents in nearby areas to be aware of their local air quality and take necessary precautions to protect themselves. People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people are especially susceptible to health effects from these pollutants. Air District officials urge residents to follow their doctors’ orders when exposed to fire emissions. 

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District also reported that smoke from the ag and nearby open space fire extended into San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties. The smoke has since minimized but it expected to continue until the ag fire is completely extinguished. It is anticipated that the fire will be completely extinguished by Saturday, May 23. 

The City of Tracy will be actively posting informational updates on this incident at www.thinkinsidethetriangle.com. For questions or concerns related to this incident, please contact Agra Marketing, LLC at 1.855.894.1782. 

 

 

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