Four alarm fire burns 20 acres near San Ramon

July 7, 2008 11:57:21 PM PDT
In the East Bay, workers cutting metal with a circular saw set off a 20 acre wildfire between San Ramon and Castro Valley. The fast moving fire had neighbors on edge as they watched smoke rise from a nearby canyon.

From her kitchen window, outside of San Ramon, Zita Rodriguez saw the wildfire swallowing the clubhouse on her 20 acre spread.

"We are on the lookout, every single day, almost 24-hours a day, and look what happened to us," said Rodriguez, a property owner.

The fire raced up the canyon, headed toward Castro Valley on the other side of the ridge. About 100 firefighters and two tankers pounced on it. Lisa Robinson saw the smoke rising above her 120 horse stable and immediately went into evacuation mode.

"We had grease pens to write on the horses, people's phone numbers on the horses' butts for where they were going, sheets of paper on who goes in what trailer," said Robinson from Apple Creek Farms.

However, Robinson says the CHP closed off Crow Canyon Road, cutting off 18 horse owners and their trailers. She says she spent 30 precious minutes haggling with authorities until they let them in.

"I don't think they realize sometimes what it's going to take to get a large amount of horses out, how many loads you have to make," said Lisa Robinson.

By the time they were allowed in, firefighters had the flames under control. Unlike most July mornings, cool fog did not cascade over the East Bay hills and into the canyon. Instead, it reached 98 degrees and on Tuesday it's expected to be five degrees warmer.

"Especially with the fuels that we have in the East Bay is a big deal, because they're considered one hour fuels and it takes one hour for them to dry out. So the overnight moisture dew that we get overnight really doesn't do anything within that hour. So five degrees really changes it quite a bit for us," said Deputy Fire Chief David Rocha, with the Alameda County Fire Department.

The National Weather Service issued a fire weather alert, but it doesn't go into effect until Tuesday, which means this could be a long week ahead.

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If you have pictures of this fire or any other fire burning in the Bay Area, we want to hear from you. Send them to photos@kgo-tv.com and we'll feature them on-air and online.

MORE: ABC7's Bay Area wildfire resource guide and safety tips
MAP: Google Reference Map of California Fires
(From the Governor's Office of Emergency Services).


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