Fire on Bradford Island continues to burn with little resistance from firefighters

An incredibly stubborn fire on Bradford Island continues to burn with virtually no resistance from firefighters, even though properties have been lost and stock lives are threatened.

In fact, out in the Delta, there are several leveed-up island tracts that have, in effect, no official fire protection.

Bradford Island, in eastern Contra Costa County, accessible only by ferry, caught fire early Monday morning and has been burning ever since. Many of the 48 residents were evacuated.

The 2,200 acre island, used for wheat farming, cattle grazing, and natural gas extraction, is actually reclaimed peat moss.

The leveed up, below sea level tract, burns even more doggedly than normal farmland. 

"And it's gonna require us to flood the island to be able to fully extinguish this fire," said Steve Aubert of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.

This island is remote and extremely hard to get to.

Another major problem is the constant wind. The fire could last for hours with firefighters not knowing how much damage is done.

Earlier, the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District sent one engine to the island by ferry with assistance from other county and state agencies. However, they were not effective against the wind-driven fire, leaving it up to those who stayed behind to protect their properties.

"No, nothing at, it's just us with a couple of water tanks. That's all we have. They could do a water drop and put out half the fire, but they're just choosing not to do it for some reason. I'm not sure why," said farmer Cal Cunningham.

This is one of several Delta tracts that are not covered by any fire district and must rely on the willingness of other agencies, charged with protecting their own jurisdictions first, to lend a hand if and when they can.

It's an untenable situation that needs a solution sooner than later.

"We've already lost at least five homes I think," said Cunningham.

Flooding the island has a whole array of other complications which would interfere with farm labor, necessary to bring in the harvests.