San Jose fire crews stretched thin battling 2 fires

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ByAlan Wang KGO logo
Monday, June 30, 2014
San Jose fire crews stretched thin battling 2 fires
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Fire crews in San Jose had their hands full with two fires that broke out around the same time Monday afternoon.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- South Bay fire crews felt the heat as they battled not one, but two brush fires on Monday. Golfers nearby one of the fires didn't let the blaze interrupt their game, but the situation was a lot more intense for the firefighters.

Conditions were just right for those fires to spread fast. It meant double duty for San Jose fire crews as two brushfires ignited, nearly simultaneously in tinder dry conditions.

One fire was near the Los Lagos Golf Course and the second threatened homes and burned over 100 acres on Curie Drive and Phelam Court, seven miles away.

Fire crews stayed late Monday night to mop up the hot spots and they said they would be there for the next two days. Mutual aid from Santa Clara County fire departments as far away as Cupertino, Mountain View and Saratoga were all tapped for the fires, which meant surrounding departments had to fill in for those vacant stations. The resources in the South Bay were stretched thin.

Cal Fire air tanker drops played a key role in slowing down a South San Jose wildfire that broke out around 1:30 p.m.

"I have to admit that Cal Fire, CDF, all these fire guys got out here incredibly fast," resident John Barlesi said.

John and his wife, Lisa, had front row seats to the flames that were sweeping up the hill toward several multi-million dollar homes on the ridge. That's where Hogan White lives.

White told ABC7 News, "All of a sudden I started hearing all of these helicopters and airplanes planes flying by, so I came out to see what was going on."

White shot video as the flames began threatening the homes on Scenic Vista Drive. He said, "About 20 minutes later here comes a fireman. He says, 'Get ready to evacuate,' and another 20 minutes later, he said, 'Please leave. It looks kind of dangerous.'"

Ten neighbors were evacuated including White who only took his passport and some money. Not far away, the entire IMB Almaden Research Center was being evacuated and so was Santa Teresa County Park.

People were in a panic including Phil Levers who says he drove past a police road block to save his dog. He told ABC7 News, "And I run into another police officer who starts yelling at me to go back. I go back and the guy gives me a ticket."

Fire fighters never had to tap the water storage tanks, which homeowners up there are required to have. But fire crews did pump water out of a family's swimming pool which helped save the homes on the ridge.

Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.