OAKLAND, Calif. - Oakland firefighters quickly snuffed out a 2.5-acre overnight wildland fire in the hills Saturday before it seriously threatened homes.
It was another reminder of how dangerous conditions were and would become later this week as temperatures heat up. There was also another fire threat looming.
As demonstrated Saturday night, firefighters must act quickly to prevent a small fire from getting out of hand, so when a fire does break out, they throw more equipment and personnel at it than what is typical.
Just after 10:00 p.m. Saturday, flames were seen chewing threw the dry brush in the hills above the neighborhood of Sheffield village, just south of the Oakland Zoo. Right below the flames were homes. Nervous owners watched the fire light up the night sky.
"We saw the orange just go from here all the way, all the way across like this. It was going very rapidly and then as we were looking and trying to gauge the progress of it one of the trees just lit up like a firecracker thing, just whoosh," said Georgia Buettner.
The four-alarm fire was in an area challenging to access, requiring four-wheeled drive rigs and hundreds of feet of hose, but firefighters knocked it down by midnight. Crews remained on the scene through much of Sunday because of the risk of a flare-up.
"We have two engines which total eight personnel on it, and they’re walking the perimeter making sure there are no hotspots, anything like that," said Chris Landry, an Oakland Fire Battalion Chief.
This fire came just before the anticipated arrival of increasing temperatures that would exacerbate already dry conditions and would be accompanied by northerly winds.
"We want the public to have knowledge knowing that the fire danger really is increasing with this hotter, drier weather," said Jon Heggine, a Cal Fire Battalion Chief.
There would be another risk, the fourth of July, and the illegal fireworks that would be popping off. It is a day of dread for law enforcement and firefighters who are preparing for this.
"Chaos! A lot of responses. We will be going all night long. All our crews," said Battalion Chief Landry.
Firefighters urged people to stay away from all types of fireworks, and leave that for the professionals at public shows.
In many places fireworks are illegal, and even when they are not, firefighters said the risks of using them are just too high.