Season's first local wildfire burned near Mt. Diablo

June 12, 2010 12:03:22 AM PDT
Firefighters battled the season's first Bay Area wildfire on Friday in Walnut Creek. It roared to life at about 4 p.m., burning 180 acres of the Shell Ridge Open Space and by late Friday evening, the flames were out, but the charred ground was still smoldering. The good news is by 11 p.m. the fire trucks started to leave and the winds dramatically died down amongst cooler temperatures.

Earlier in the day however, the hot temperatures and wind helped fuel the fire, which quickly spread through an open space area at the bottom of Mt. Diablo.

Firefighters tackled it from the air spreading a retardant and water from several helicopters. About 80 firefighters were on the ground trying to keep it from spreading and reaching homes.

"No homes threatened. This fire crested at the top of the hill, and there are homes on the other side of the hill, but once the fire reached the top of the hill and slowed down, we were able to access it fairly quickly and extinguish it," said Batt. Chief Keith Cormier from the Contra Costa County Fire District.

Nearby residents were told to be prepared in case they needed to move out quickly.

"We have a house here and there is a lot of woods, so we're always concerned," said Walnut Creek resident John Kelly.

"With all the activity that goes on up there with the kids, it's just really, really scary when it comes around summer time, but I think we are pretty safe now, unless the wind shifts," said resident Stacy Schroder.

Fire investigators are looking into the possibility that three teenagers may have started this blaze. They were seen running away from the area where the fire started.

Conditions here are very dry.

"It seems like today is the first hot and windy day of the year, so all of a sudden we are in fire season big time so people have to be careful about what they do. It's like a heads up for everybody," said resident Rick Foster.

Firefighters worked through the night very quickly to put out any hot spots because Saturday is expected to be windy and even hotter.

Red flag warnings are in effect from Saturday 2 a.m. to Sunday morning 7 a.m.

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