SoCal strike team helps extinguish fast-moving brush fire in San Jose

Warm, dry, conditions Monday pushed a fast-moving fire from a South Bay freeway toward a neighborhood, prompting some evacuations. But fate seemed to keep a watchful eye, partially sparing potential victims.

“My cousin is actually the one who woke me up, screaming that there’s a fire. And I woke up and all I see is the trees on fire,” said Arturo Sanchez, a resident who was evacuated temporarily.

Fire officials say around midday, a vegetation fire erupted next to a fence near Highway 101. A fire strike team from Orange County, helping to tame wildfires in the area, happened to drive past, and was the first on-scene.

“We actually started this off as two independent fires and then they were merged together when we realized we were battling the same fire,” said San Jose Fire Dept. Capt. Mitch Matlow.

Dry grass, coupled with triple-digit temperatures pushed the danger off the freeway, toward a neighborhood near North 23rd and Taylor streets. That prompted the evacuation of some units as a precaution.

“My auntie and my cousin running frantically, trying to grab our belongings. Trying to get safe, you know?,” said Sanchez.

The flames spread from tree limbs to several nearby vehicles, which threatened apartment buildings.

“The fire spread more rapidly because the fuels are very receptive to ignition. On top of that, we’ve got heat stress for the firefighters,” said Capt. Matlow.

Crews from several engines and water tenders spent around an hour and a half surpassing the flames.

"We’ve had damage to multiple vehicles. The fence is damaged. However, none of the structures here are damaged,” said Capt. Matlow. Added Sanchez.

“We’re just happy that the apartment didn’t burn down, and we’re still here, talking," said Sanchez

Officials say there are no reported injuries and the fire’s cause is still under investigation.