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Fuel mix-up temporarily disables firefighters at Oregon-California border

by Austin de Dios, The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) |

Fire crews fighting the nearly 86,000-acre wildfire burning at the border of Oregon and California reported vehicle malfunctions Friday following a fuel mix-up, officials said.

Firefighters working on the south side of the Smith River Complex fire noticed issues with fire trucks and off-road vehicles midday Friday. Officials determined that fuel tenders — used to get fuel to vehicles in remote areas — were mistakenly filled with gasoline instead of diesel, or vice-versa, the day before, officials said.

The fuel issues forced fire crews in the area to stop working from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, but officials said there were “no negative consequences to fire operations.”

Fire officials said 42 out of 700 vehicles received the wrong fuel.

Firefighters stranded by the vehicle malfunctions were shuttled to campsites and stayed overnight.

The mistaken fuel was pumped into 55-gallon drums and returned to the fuel provider for disposal, officials said.

The Smith River Complex is 20 percent contained, and is burning in the Six Rivers and Rogue River-Siskiyou national forests.