Milpitas brush fire burns more than 300 acres

- Firefighters in the South Bay are getting a handle on a brush fire that quickly blew up Sunday afternoon. The so-called  “Country Fire” has produced a lot of smoke in the hills east of Milpitas. Cal Fire has been able to hold the fire at 320 acres at 80 percent containment.
 
Evacuations are still in effect for ranch properties along Weller Road as a precaution. The fire activity has diminished significantly. Fire crews are hopeful since humidity is expected to come up overnight Sunday.
 
A grass fire in the east foothills of Milpitas grew fast and intense. It started near Country Club Drive and North Park Victoria Road. Large plumes of smoke could be seen for miles. 
 
“I was shocked,” said Jennifer Connolly of San Jose. “I was shocked how bad it was. I thought initially it was a small fire it wasn't going to be a big deal. As I saw the hill on fire, it was alarming at that point.”
 
The fire broke out around 2 p.m. scorching at least 320 acres burning into Ed Levin County Park and racing uphill. 
 
“The wind combined with the dry fuel and a steep slope it burned very quickly uphill,” said Capt. Bill Murphy of Santa Clara County Fire Department.
 
At the height of the fire, more than 200 firefighters were on the ground. Four air tankers and two helicopters helped contain the fire's spread dropping fire retardant and water from two nearby lakes.
 
“There's some structures on the other side of that hill line,” said Mark Lilledahl.  “It’s horses and barns that's what they were spending most of their time protecting.”
 
A road block was set up at Weller Road where two large ranch properties were evacuated.
 
“I had to get up there and get my horse out and start evacuating,” said Connolly. “It was scary as I drove up.”
 
Connolly rushed to her two horses aid, among 100 horses at Indian Hills Ranch. She was worried about their safety. She said any hint of fire is a cause for alarm.
 
“It’s this dry and there's fires because of the Sonoma fire and other fires we have seen, it can go up very quickly,” said Connolly. 
 
Firefighters airing a word of caution. Fire season in Northern California is already off to a fast start.
 
“If people don't have defensible space, now is absolutely the time they make sure they've cut any dry grass, cleaned any pine needles out of the gutters and make sure they are ready,” said Capt. Murphy. 
 
Cal Fire said an outbuilding was damaged. No homes were burned. Fire crews will be on scene all night to cut fire lines. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 
 
 

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