Copper theft causes 10-acre fire at Mare Island

Bay Area

VALLEJO (KRON) – Copper wire thieves strike on an abandoned part of Mare Island but this time going to extreme lengths to steal the cables.  

They cut down power poles to get the metal causing a fire in the process.

It’s part of a growing problem in the area.

The Vallejo Fire Department says a power saw was used to cut down two utility poles on the southern end of Mare Island Wednesday morning, so that thieves could steal the copper wire attached, and eventually sell it for profit.

“This is the second incident in a month where we’ve had an intentional cutting down of a power pole,” Doug Buchanan with Island Energy said.

Except this time, a fire sparked as a result burning about 10 acres of land near abandoned navy barracks, an area the Vallejo Fire Department says is off limits to the public.

“It was extremely difficult to access certain parts of the fire due to this steep terrain,” Kevin Brown with the Vallejo Fire Department said. 

Inmate firefighters and crews from other agencies were called in to fight the fire.

It was fully contained within five hours.

The damaged circuit powers up the US Coast Guard Telecommunications Center and a ship traffic radar installation, generators helped keep both operational.

“They had a similar incident approximately a month ago that did not lead to a fire, but they did have lines that were affected by some kind of similar intent of trying to potentially acquire that copper line,” Brown said.

“We’ve experienced a lot of copper theft on the island over the years,” Buchanan said.

But this appears to be the first time a theft has caused a fire.

Pittsburg Power Company Island Energy says copper thefts here are reported on average twice a month, though usually at abandoned buildings, not utility poles.

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