If you were in the River Park area of north Fresno on Saturday afternoon, you may have been left wondering what that mysterious red substance was that rained from the sky and landed on cars, buildings and just about everything else on the ground.
The answer: Fire retardant, which had been destined to attack a wildfire.
And if you believe your car or anything else was damaged, you may be able to get some financial relief.
A National Guard C-130, headed to the fire near Jamestown, suffered a malfunction and the chemical was released on to the shopping center and surrounding areas, Fresno County and Cal Fire spokesman Jeremiah Wittwer said after speaking with a National Guard lieutenant.
The retardant is a water-based, noncorrosive fertilizer that usually can be easily washed off anywhere it landed, Wittwer said.
An advisory from Cal Fire does include some cautionary notes.
When allowed to dry, a gum thickener can form films that tend to hold the dried retardant component tightly to wherever it lands – a desirable trait when it lands on wildland fuels. But for cars, buildings and such, some scrubbing or power washing may be required.
There’s also a risk of the ground where the retardant landed becoming slippery.
An investigation by the National Guard is continuing, Wittwer added.
There had been no reported injuries.
Claims for personal or property damage can be filed through California’s Government Claims Program. Call 800-955-0045, or visit www.dgs.ca.gov/orim/Programs/GovernmentClaims.aspx.