Monday, June 30, 2014

125 Acres Burn In the South San Jose Foothills

Photo By John Whitaker
The afternoon of June 30 was HOT with very little breeze.
At 1:45 P.M., the San Jose Fire Department received multiple calls of a vegetation fire burning low on the north side of the Santa Teresa foothills. San Jose escalated the response to a Tier 1 (one alarm) and with units en route reporting a large, increasing smoke column, upgraded to Tier 2 almost immediately.
John Whiteside had been closely monitoring fire radio activity due to the heat (100 degrees at 1:30 P.M. at his home), and responded to San Jose Station 35 to drive Fire Support Unit 3 to the fire. Located south of Curie Dr. and west of Cottle Rd., the blaze was about 2 miles from the station. A Tier 2 request for Fire Associates was received a few minutes later.
John loaded all the ice he could manage and took FSU 3 to the fire at 2:20 P.M. Meanwhile, John Whitaker started from his home to the fire, and Don Gilbert, monitoring the fast moving fire (already at 10 acres) went to get FSU 2. Don responded to the Almaden Valley side of the fire since it was burning over the hilltop. Randy Whiteside soon arrived to assist his father, John. The unified Command Post was set up at the intersection of Curie Drive and Curie Court.
Photo By John Whitaker
At 1:46 P.M., Morgan Hill Cal Fire dispatched a high-level response of at least 14 engines, 4 dozers, 2 water tenders and 5 hand crews, plus multiple air tankers and copters. San Jose went to a Tier 4, plus requesting a Type 3 engine strike team from Santa Clara County Fire for structure protection on the Almaden Valley side at Scenic Vista Drive. Other departments within the county sent engines to assist San Jose at the fire and for station coverage. FSU 3 soon was totally depleted of its load of about 12 cases of liquid drinks, and left the scene to return to nearby Station 35 to replenish liquids and ice and then return to the fire.
While all this was happening, San Jose had another large brush fire erupt 6 miles away. John Whitaker left the Santa Teresa incident to provide liquids (using his personal vehicle) to the crews at the new fire located in Coyote Creek off Tuers Rd. Later, FSU 1 from Santa Clara responded to assist at that fire. (See a full report in a separate blog entry.)
Because the Santa Teresa fire was located south of the hillside canal, the fire was deemed a State Resource Area and, therefore, a Cal Fire responsibility. However, fire units already on scene continued the firefight, regardless of their agency affiliation. Cal Fire arranged for dinner to be catered and as crews demobilized, they passed through the food line for a delicious, hot meal! Crews were on scene all night and throughout the next day.
The fire covered 125 acres with no structures lost. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries. John Whiteside and FSU 3, the last FSU to be released, returned to Station 35 at 10:00 P.M. It made for a long, hot day!
-- Report submitted by John Whiteside