San Ramon grass fire threatens homes

June 29, 2012 1:03:29 AM PDT
An afternoon blaze near Dougherty and Lawrence roads in San Ramon on Thursday sent residents into a panic and pushed them into action. Neighbors grabbed hoses and used buckets of water from neighboring pools to douse flames that came uncomfortably close to the homes of an upscale subdivision.

"I came in here yelling for my husband to find him out here, with the gate and all the boys from the neighborhood with the hose and taking buckets out of the pool, we started a bucket brigade," resident Gayle Israel said.

Fire crews used helicopters and a fixed-wing air craft to battle the wind-aided flames. A giant curtain of thick, black smoke could be seen from miles away.

"This is our fourth fire in a week of this type. San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Chief Richard Price said. "Neighbors are creating defensible space to give us a chance on a fire like this, so that it doesn't spread to the residence."

The fast moving brush fire hit three alarms and destroyed more than 50 acres of the dry, grassy, hillside that sits only inches from the homes. But the wind helped keep the fire from reaching homes.

Wind isn't' the only thing to consider. As the temperature rises, dry grassy areas can become fuel. The fire chief reminds everyone that as the July 4 holiday approaches, fireworks of any kind are not legal in Contra Costa County.