Marin County residents worry about remainder of fire season

A vegetation fire in Marin County Monday burned only two acres, thanks to an aggressive firefighting response.

"We're just getting into the pinnacle of fire season, so everyone should maintain their awareness," said Battalion Chief Bret McTigue, of the Marin County Fire Department. "All fires start small, and the goal is to keep fires small, so we put on a lot of resources, anything we can spare."

The fire broke out at about 2:30 pm on White's Hill outside Fairfax.

It burned uphill into grassy woodland on private property, and while no immediate threat to homes, the high-visibility location brought numerous 911 calls. 

"I'm impressed with how fast they were on it," said Jamie Williams, who lives with his family in the Baywood Canyon below the fire.

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Residents were relieved to see two Cal Fire air tankers quickly over the fire, dropping retardant and cutting off its progress.

"I have to say, it's reassuring because I am definitely paranoid these days living here," said Williams.

The Hill Fire was a roadside start along busy Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.

The cause may have been vehicular, or tossed smoking material, the cause is under investigation.

But like most fires, Iit was human-caused.  

Marin County sent five engines, a bulldozer and a hand-crew, stopping the fire within an hour.

"Given the conditions, we're approaching our windy season here so this is when the extra vigilance really does pay off," said McTigue.

As crews worked hot spots mopping up the slope, traffic restrictions had people idling at both sides of the blaze, and thinking about their fire preparation, or lack of it.

"We've got everything ready at home, cat carriers, everything ready to go," said Elaine Penwell, waiting for traffic to move.

"I've resigned myself  to the possibility so I've got everything packed and ready if we need to go."

With Sir Francis Drake Blvd, the only primary escape route, the thought of wildfire is especially unnerving.

"I wonder, is it our turn?," said Tracy Holsher, also waiting to get home. "There has been fire everywhere else, so who's next? It's scary to think it's so dry and no water anywhere."

Fire awareness has seeped into younger generations too.

"If we evacuate, I'd take my piggy bank and my i-pad," said Zach Williams, 9, alongside his dad.

"I don't think there's a big chance my house will ever burn down so I don't worry about it, but there is a chance."

Fire agencies notice public sensitivity at an all-time high.

"People do their part, know the evacuation process, know different routes out of their house, so we see  the public being a great partner with all of our new fires," said McTigue.

As the fire in Fairfax was burning, a second call came from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Engines were diverted, and the air tankers were en route too, but unneeded as that fire ended up even smaller and contained within existing trails.