Hayward hills fire threatens homes

June 10, 2008 7:06:01 PM PDT
There was a close call in the Hayward hills on Tuesday afternoon, when a fire broke out in some tall grass just below dozens of houses.

Flames damaged some sheds, but glad to say no homes were lost.

Firefighters knocked down the two-alarm fire quickly, but some of the big issues battling the fire included tall grass, low humidity and wind. It's a combination that can cause big trouble in the coming days.

Those who live in some Hayward neighborhoods say the flames raced up a grassy hillside in a matter of minutes.

"It just happened so fast, what I heard from my husband, the fire was just faster than you could run," said Carolyn Stefanac.

Stefanac's family lives in the house most threatened by the flames. A small structure on the property was damaged, but the main house was left untouched.

"Now our house is just filled up with smoke. They're just going to blow it out, but thank god that everyone is all right," said Stefanac

"I was feeding the kids lunch and I looked outside the window and I see smoke coming up," said evacuee Kristen Orner.

Orner and her young children live in one of a half dozen homes evacuated above the fire.

"And I go out and I see the whole house below is full of smoke, complete smoke and then I went and looked out front and the police chief comes and say 'you have to evacuate, you have to evacuate,'" said Orner.

Hayward Fire Chief Craig Bueno says conditions were ripe for this fire and many more like it in the coming months.

"It's a little bit early this year. The thousand hour fuels, which is just a measure of moisture content in the fuels that burn in this area, was down. We're somewhere around 45 days ahead of schedule. Notwithstanding a red flag warning, we're still in an extremely dangerous situation," said Chief Bueno.

Stefanac hopes this fire serves as a wake-up call to those who've yet to cut back...their tall grasses.

"Our neighbors here have grass that's about that high, dead dry grass and I think that's what made it go really quickly," said Stefanac.

Fire investigators are still working to determine the cause of this fire. The city of Hayward has a program to warn homeowners of tall grass and they notify them that they need to cut it.

If they don't, the will send out a contractor to cut it out for them and then they send them the bill.


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