Residents prepare to evacuate as Ballybunion fire in Gilroy grows

Hundreds of Gilroy residents are keeping a close eye on our changing weather, and the impact it could have on a wildfire in the South Bay. Residents of the Eagle Ridge subdivision are spending this holiday holding a type of "neighborhood watch party."

"All the neighbors came out and we've been kind of checking in on each other, ah, the whole weekend now," said Brent Jenkins.

His gaze,  and that of his neighbors, isn't for criminals, but rather the menacing smoky cloud rising above the ridge.. The 100-acre Ballybunion fire started burning between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. Sunday. Upwards of 800 Eagle Ridge homes sit yards from destruction.. Many here packed up and prepared to leave, just in case increasing winds started blowing trouble toward their homes. By Tuesday morning, it was 35 percent contained.

"You hate to see the house go up, but it's just a house and we're okay. you keep thinking of Houston and the other fires going on and you say, 'okay, we can do this lord,'" said Candi Jenkins.

Two hundred firefighters are waging an unrelenting assault on the flames from the air, and from the ground. Steep, rocky, terrain is making it difficult for bulldozers to dig a containment line around the fire. So firefighters from CalFire and local departments from surrounding counties have gone back to basics -- using hand crews on the ground to get a handle on the fire..

"We're basically building contingency lines if we can't keep it in our box. right now we're hitting it really hard with fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. and we've set our priorities and our objectives, are always gonna be live and property," said chief Derrick Witmer with CalFire..

One firefighter took a spill down the hill and suffered minor injuries. No homes have been damaged, and officials hope changing weather and winds don't change their fortunes, and force people here to evacuate as a precaution..

"I have dog food in the cars. dogs in the kennels ready to go. I had some clothes packed in a bag, just in case," said Brent Jenkins..

Fire officials say they still don't have any containment on the fire. but they hope that changes this evening if favorable weather conditions hold. while neighbors say children playing with fireworks touched off the fire, CalFire investigators say the cause is still under investigation.

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