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‘Suspicious’ fire behind Citrus Heights Walmart prompts investigation

Firefighters and police respond to a suspicious grass fire behind Walmart on Sept. 10, 2022. // CH Sentinel

Sentinel staff report– A grass fire in the undeveloped area behind Walmart was extinguished by responding fire crews on Saturday who kept the blaze contained, despite winds.

Battalion Chief Mike Johnson said firefighters responded to a report of the fire around 3:05 p.m. on Sept. 10, located behind the Walmart store at 7010 Auburn Blvd. Arriving crews found a small grass fire about one-eighth of an acre in size.

He said crews were able to contain the fire “fairly quickly” and kept the incident small, with no threat to any nearby buildings and no reports of injuries.

At the scene, Johnson said the fire was “under investigation, but suspicious in nature at this time.” He confirmed a woman had reportedly been seen starting the fire, and said that report was the reason the fire was considered suspicious.

A Metro Fire public information officer reached by phone on Monday said arson investigators have classified the incident as “undetermined.”

The nature preserve area behind Walmart has been the scene of several fires in recent years. In July, a pallet fire behind the store spread to nearby grass and trees. Johnson said that fire was determined to have likely been arson.

Fire behind Walmart burns through cardboard bales, grass

In 2016, a string of seven fires occurred in the nature preserve over the course of six weeks. A pair of 19-year-old suspects were arrested in connection with one of the fires.

Johnson credited the mowing of dry weeds in the area with helping stop the most recent fire from spreading further. He noted that winds on Saturday would have made the fire “more intense,” had dry grasses not been cut at a low height along the paved access route behind Walmart.

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