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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fire Season Starting Up In Northern California

 San Jose: Five-acre blaze on Communications Hill sparked by homeless encampment
SAN JOSE -- A cooking fire at a homeless encampment sparked a grass fire on Communications Hill on Saturday afternoon, but it was corralled before it caused any injury or serious damage, the San Jose Fire Department said.

Firefighters were called at 1:48 p.m., but their response was slowed because their equipment that traverses hilly terrain wasn't fully operational since fire season doesn't start for at least another month, said fire Capt. Reggie Williams.

The blaze consumed five acres before firefighters -- with the help of water drops from a Cal Fire helicopter -- brought it under control at 3:32 p.m. No injuries were reported, and nothing other than vegetation burned.

"It was a difficult fire because it was wind-driven, and because of the terrain," Williams said. "Luckily the grass is still fairly green out there"

 Firefighters lend a hand with controlled burns

At least two controlled, permitted burns in Sonoma and Mendocino counties got a little bit out of control Saturday afternoon, requiring firefighters’ quick response to extinguish them, officials said.

One of the fires was located on a stretch of Gehricke Road, near a vineyard, according to Cal Fire officials. That fire burned about three acres and was mostly contained by 7 p.m.

The other fire was off Old Toll Road and Adobe Creek Road, near the Mendocino/Lake County border. Cal Fire officials said that fire grew to at least 10 acres, twice the area of the permitted burn.

A Mendocino County resident also reported spot fires near the Hopland Grade, at mile marker 8.2. The resident said he reported the fire to Cal Fire at about 4 p.m. but that they were slow to respond.

He said that 45 minutes after reporting the fire it had grown to six separate fires. A Mendocino Cal Fire representative said Saturday night that the fire was a controlled burn that never got out of hand.

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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