'Time is of the essence': Dry, gusty conditions fuel fires in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Monday afternoon's high winds are being blamed for spreading a couple fast moving fires in San Jose.

"Nothing moves a grass fire faster than wind," San Jose Fire Department (SJFD) Capt. Jesse Allread told ABC7 News.

SJFD, CAL Fire and other South Bay agencies responded to a fire burning off Sierra Road in San Jose's East Foothills. First responders met residents on the front lines, as the 8-acre fire threatened homes nearby.

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Capt. Allread said the agencies work in collaboration, especially when responding to "mutual threat zones."

He said when there is a major wind event expected, agencies typically upstaff.

"Even as we were fighting- hosing the fire, you can still see the wind was pretty strong," Chris Catunao said. "So, that did not help."

She and other neighbors used their hoses to keep the fire from burning their properties.

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Wind gusts of above 30 mph got the attention of neighbors early on.

"Wind was so heavy today," resident Joy Xiong explained. "We have never seen the wind so large, because we can literally hear the wind hitting the window."


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Xiong said she and many others in the area are still working from home because of the pandemic. She was around to hear the gusty wind crash into her home all day, so she knew which direction the fire would travel and knew it would happen quickly.

"Less than one minute," Xiong said. "My husband called me and said there's a fire across the creek and then we just packed things up and left."

Catunao, who has lived in the area for 23 years said, "It was windy! Just windy."

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Twenty-minutes before the blaze near Sierra Road and a little more than two miles away, SJFD said the same windy conditions fueled the spread of another fire. A home along Warmwood Lane was damaged.

"When there's a Red Flag, we are on heightened alert," Capt. Allread told ABC7 News.

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At the scene of the Sierra Road fire, he elaborated, "Because we know if a fire starts, it's a matter of time before it gets to the residents like you saw here. So, time is of the essence."

Fire danger remains high due to dry, gusty winds.

Allread said, "This time of year, it's pretty common for these winds actually to come out of the north and be dry. And if we don't have the rain prior to, then it's a big concern for fire danger."

Capt. Allread said the cause of the fast-moving brush fire won't be known for "some time."
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