Fire scorches Communications Hill

September 3, 2009 12:23:23 AM PDT
A grass fire in South San Jose came dangerously close to homes Wednesday afternoon. It started just east of Highway 87, near Curtner Avenue, not far from Capitol Expressway. Thick smoke closed down part of that highway and several homes had to be evacuated.

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It started at the top of Communications Hill and then went down and stopped at Highway 87. The fire broke out at around 2:30 p.m.

PHOTOS: Communications Hill fire

While firefighters struggled to save the homes, they may have saved their station from the chopping block.

Station 33 was being considered for closure, but it came in handy on Wednesday as flames spread on Communications Hill at Highway 87 and Capitol Expressway.

The flames could be seen for miles. A large plume of smoke hung over Communications Hill in South San Jose. Crews raced to the hill after the fire started on carol drive. Early reports indicate a transformer exploded and ignited the fast moving brush fire.

Two homes were evacuated as the fire quickly crept across the hill. Some residents even tried to hose down their property to stop the flames.

"Me and my friends saw fire and big smoke coming out, and so what we did is we all ran up there. There was just smoke and ashes falling all over the place," said Jason Prado, a witness.

The fire burned a total of 25 acres. Firefighters surrounded homes and put out spot fires, all the while keeping an eye on the communications tower -- which was surrounded by the fire. It controls all of the emergency communications for the city.

Only one out building was lost and crews got control of the blaze in three hours.

Engines from Station 33 were one of the first to arrive at the fire. It's located on top of Communications Hill. Up until a few months ago, the city considered closing this station because of the budget deficit. Closing the station could've saved San Jose $1.7 million. In the end, the city chose to keep it open.

"There's a lot of people that live here and I have two small children and safety is important," said Shannon Roberson, a resident.

The fire was just 150 feet from Roberson home. Though Station 33 is off the chopping block for now, she hopes this fire is proof, that it needs to stay off.

LINK: ABC7's Bay Area wildfire resource guide and safety tips

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