OAKLAND, Calif. - It’s shaping up to be a busy weekend for firefighters as they battle fires under red flag conditions.
Several vegetation fires broke out in parts of the Bay Area Saturday afternoon in the heart of the warning zone.
Fremont, Pittsburg, Alamo, Benicia. Those are just some of the places where fire broke out Saturday.
Flames began eating their way through vegetation near Lopes Road and i680 near Benicia Saturday morning, one of several fires that broke out in the east and north bay.
Ironically, the man living on the property described how his lawn mowing to reduce fire danger backfired.
"I get a rock with the blade and then I sparkin’ it up," said Rosenburg Rodriguez, who lives on the property.
Neighbors say they tried to douse the flames with hoses and an extinguisher, but their efforts were no match for conditions.
"By the time we got to it, we tried to put it out, but the wind took over and there it went," said neighbor Mike Talamantes.
Brisk winds from the north helped fan the flames of what firefighters describe as light, flashy fuels.
The fire quickly grew to 45 acres as several agencies, including Cal Fire, used the muscle of machines to get it under control before it encountered property.
"There's about 15 or 20 other buildings on the other side where the fire was going with the wind pushing," said Cal Fire Battalion Chief, Aaron Latta. "But thanks to the quick work of copter 104, dozer 1449 they were able to corral it and turn it away from the structures and the outbuildings."
About 20 miles south along I-680, another fire, in Alamo.
This one happened near a more populated area, close to hillside homes on Biltmore Drive. No properties were damaged.
Red flag conditions have not come to the Bay Area this early in several years.
In preparation, some firefighting agencies like Con Fire have been granted state funding to beef up personnel and equipment to deal with vegetation fires, which are popping up more frequently.
"What we’re seeing is for this early in the season any ignition at all is gaining traction and spreading through vegetation more quickly," said Capt. George Laing with Con Fire.
Con Fire has brought on an extra dozer, type 3 brush rig, hand crew, and dispatcher.
It’s one example of how many fire departments have gotten prepared for a season that’s already off to a busy start.