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Crews put out multiple fires along Highway 99

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Posted: Friday, July 5, 2013 4:38 pm

Firefighters spent Friday morning cleaning up after a vegetation fire that burned approximately 50 to 75 acres between Hammer Lane and Eight Mile Road along Highway 99 on Thursday afternoon.

The Stockton Fire Department is investigating the cause of the widespread blaze, but it’s believed that sparks from a train triggered multiple grass fires, according to Stockton Battalion Chief Rick Stubstad.

Fire crews received reports of several fires along a two-mile stretch of the railroad tracks that run parallel to Highway 99 around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Witnesses reported seeing sparks coming from a train passing through the area that afternoon, according to Stockton Fire Chief Operator John Hellige. Authorities later stopped the train in Lodi and fixed the cause of the sparks.

About once a year the Stockton Fire Department receives reports of fires caused by passing trains, and the problem almost always involves the wheel bearings, Stubstad said.

It took firefighters about five hours to get the separate fires, which were spread around 5 square miles, under control, Hellige said.

Roughly 60 firefighters, along with 12 engines, two trucks and five dispatch vehicles, from Stockton and neighboring fire departments responded to the flames.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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