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The cause of a fire that destroyed three FedEx tractors early this morning is undetermined but arson is suspected, a Petaluma fire official said. Petaluma Fire Marshal Cary Fergus said there is no evidence a mechanical malfunction in the middle tractor, the origin of the fire, sparked the 2:15 a.m. blaze in the parking lot of the FedEx facility at 1230 N. McDowell Boulevard.
The three tractors, each worth $25,000, were destroyed, Fergus said. A gate to the parking lot was open and an employee was on site but not near the three tractors that were burned, Fergus said. There is no indication a disgruntled FedEx employee who might have been laid off or dismissed started the fire as the company retains its employees for many years, Fergus said.
A fuel saddle tank on the middle tractor ruptured during the fire and leaked between 20 and 60 gallons of diesel fuel into a nearby storm drain before fire crews could shut a valve to stop the leak, Battalion Chief Russ Rasmussen said. The diesel leak extended about a block to the west to Clegg Street, but did not reach a nearby creek, Rasmussen said.
Crews placed absorbent pads into the storm drain system and a Sonoma County hazardous materials team assessed the spill and developed a mitigation plan, Rasmussen said. Fergus said a cleanup crew contracted by FedEx was removing the fuel from the storm drain late this afternoon.
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