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Cause of grass fire in South San Jose under investigation

May 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A fire in South San Jose only burned seven acres. But the fierce, wind-swept grass fire sent smoke high into the sky that was visible for miles. Firefighters worked quickly to attack the blaze and stop it from spreading to nearby houses.

By early Wednesday evening, the smell of smoke was still strong and a sea of charred grass shows how much burned. Neighbors living around the field say they're lucky they didn't lose their homes.

SKY7 HD had the best view of the fast-moving fire as it advanced to the east, fanned by winds, from Singleton Road. The fire created a large cloud of smoke overhead that could be seen from downtown San Jose about five miles away and from nearby freeways.

"It's a big open field, and plus with the wind aiding it down the road it made it pretty difficult, especially as the crews were saying, it was moving at a moderate rate of speed," SJFD Captain Cleo Doss said.

The site is a former dump surrounded by single family homes.

Close to 50 San Jose firefighters responded, supported by 17 engines and trucks. A similar number responded from CalFire to form hand lines, using rakes and shovels to create fire breaks and to control burning underbrush. The CalFire helicopter also responded, making 300 gallon dumps of water.

No evacuations were ordered. However, neighbors were on alert, just in case.

"I was worried how close it was," neighbor Joe Campos said. "I was worried about making sure the neighborhood was going to be safe in case anyone needed help."

The grass was cut recently, limiting the amount of fuel available to feed the flames. Even though the field is fenced in, some neighbors worry people are getting in.

"There are people going in there," neighbor Helen Zamilph said. "You've got to have someone keep an eye on this. You've got a fire bug out there."

Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire; Coyote Creek runs adjacent to the field, a place where the homeless have camped out in the past.

"And today is fire number five in that creek this year already," Captain Doss said.

Residents know now to act fast to keep the smoke from permeating their homes.

"This time it was better because we know already," San Jose resident Yen Luong said. "We close all the windows and the door, you know. But that time we don't know, and it come in a lot."

Six-year-old Ryan Nguyen was relieved to know his house was okay.

David: "A lot of firefighters came out to put out the fire."
Ryan: "That was good."
David: "Are they your heroes?"
Ryan: "Yeah!"

No question that young Ryan and residents nearby were saved by the fact that the grass was kept cut. On a trail just outside the fence the grass is much higher posing a potential fire disaster.

Second fire sparks in South San Jose

A second fire broke out in South San Jose Wednesday night on Coyote Road and Continental Drive. It was not far away from this morning's fire on Singleton Road.

The evening's two-alarm fire was contained by fire crews, but it was a difficult one to fight because it was in heavy brush. It was hard to see and hard for the firefighters to get to. CalFire crews planned to be on scene late into Wednesday night, cutting through the brush to make sure the fire would not reignite. No structures were threatened and no one was injured.


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