Wildfire doesn't damper Cal Expo fireworks show

The annual fireworks show at Cal Expo still went on despite a wildfire that burned 40 acres of brush and trees just south of Cal Expo hours earlier.

The Cal Expo fireworks launched at 9:30 p.m. as scheduled. Thousands poured into the grandstands amidst the lingering smoke from the fire.

However, Sacramento Republic FC team officials postponed their game against the Orange County Blues for Friday night at Bonney Field, next to Cal Expo. Officials said tickets for the match will be honored for the rescheduled date. The Sacramento Republic FC's game against the Atlas FC will go on as scheduled on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

The fire started around 2 p.m. Friday, just east of Business 80 and along the American River Parkway. The blaze was on the south side of the Cal Expo fence line, near and around Bushy Lake. Cal Expo officials said firefighters had a good handle on blaze by 5:30 p.m.

The wildfire was extinguished before 7:30 p.m. One firefighter suffered a minor heat related injury. And 10 cars were also damaged by the heat from the fire. No buildings were damaged.

Sacramento City Fire spokesperson Roberto Padilla said the fire burned dry brush and trees. He added that this was not just a grass fire, but an unprecedented "wildfire in an urban setting."

Padilla said the behavior of the fire was extreme, like fires seen during late August and early September. The fire moved quickly and erratically because of windy and dry conditions.

More than a hundred firefighters, including those from nearby communities, battled flames almost 100 feet high. Padilla said crews brought in a helicopter and bulldozer to help knock down the flames.

Dark smoke from the grass fire forced evacuations of Raging Waters water park, Bonney Field and the Grandstand around 3 p.m. The RV lot south of Cal Expo was also evacuated.

Wind pushed smoke and ash from the fire northeast toward North Highlands and northeast Arden. The air quality is poor in the area because of the smoke. People with breathing conditions should stay in doors and set their air conditioners to recycle the air.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


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