Firefighter injured battling Gilroy Hills brush fire

GILROY, Calif. (KGO) -- A firefighter was injured early Monday morning after falling 40 feet down a hillside while battling a brush fire in the Gilroy Hills.

So far, the fire has burned at least 100 acres since it broke out Sunday and is zero percent contained.

Smoke chokes the Gilroy Hills as neighbors look on with concern. "We're just hoping the wind doesn't blow this way because that would be scary," Gilroy resident Neil Weigel said.

Weigel lives in a house at the base of the ridge and has been watching the fire since it started Sunday night. "You could see the flames really just billowing up," he said.
Weigel attempted to hike through the hills where the fire now burns. "It is treacherous to go hike up there," he said.

RELATED: Prepare NorCal: Disaster Preparedness Resources

The firefighter who lost his footing and fell about 40 feet down steep terrain suffered minor injuries. "A firefighter ended up tumbling down a 40 foot draw. He was taken to the hospital, evaluated and released," Gilroy Fire Department Chief Chris Weber said.

That firefighter is now back on duty.

Weber said those hillsides haven't burned before, so they're incredibly dense with trees, brush and dry grass.

On Monday, CAL FIRE attacked the blaze by air, and the helicopter currently has the best access to the hard to reach burn area.

However, resources are strapped as firefighters battle numerous fires around Northern California. "Resource levels have been drawn down to critical levels, so I don't have an answer on whether we're going to get additional aircraft at this time," Weber said.

The visibility and air quality are very bad, but so far no shelter-in-place order has been issued. "We might reconsider later on depending on how this fire goes," Weber said.

Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.