Grateful neighbors return home after Concord grass fire prompted evacuations

Byby Katie Utehs via KGO logo
Saturday, June 30, 2018
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The fire is now 85 percent contained and residents who were evacuated are now allowed to return home.

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Fire watch crews will be on scene all night in Concord following a brush fire that threatened hundreds of homes. The fire is now 85 percent contained and residents who were evacuated are now allowed to return home.

The fire started around 3:45 p.m. along Ygnacio Valley Road near Cowell Road. People who live in the Montecito neighborhood watched flames sweep towards their homes.

Carolann Elmore described the flames, "To the top of the sky, they couldn't have been any bigger. They were all the way over and the whole back yard was smoked, our house was smoked out."

Police evacuated hundreds of people from Montecito and the Crystal Ranch community.

"What do you do? What can you do? You feel helpless, but when you see all these fire crews everybody around is like, wow. We have heroes around us," said Alex Arriaga, a Montecito resident.

Helicopters and air tankers fought from the sky as firefighters battled the four-alarm fire on the ground.

"Thanks to a quick and overwhelming response, we were able to protect all of those structures," said Steve Hill, Contra Costa Fire Protection District Public Information Officer.

"Oh my God, the flames were all the way to my back fence. Thank God for Contra Costa Fire, they did a great job and they saved my home and I'm so thankful," said Robert Elmore.

Robert and Carolann Elmore packed to evacuate. While doing so, Carolann thought about the North Bay Fire victims.

"This is what those people went through. I'm going to get emotional. I just thought, my God, this is what they went through and this is what's happening to us and you think what to grab," said Carolann Elmore.

Fortunately, the homeowners association had recently cleared brush ahead of fire season.

"In the case of the threatened structures along Montecito, if those homeowners had not abated their weeds, this situation could have turned out much differently for them," said Hill.

Witnesses tell fire investigators a white diesel truck traveling on Ygnacio was backfiring and sparking. It may have caused the fire.