Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fire Crews Battle Vegetation Fire High Up In the Eastern Foothills

Photo By John Whiteside
On Tuesday, July 29, the temperature was in the mid 90s when San Jose Fire paged Fire Associates at 1447 hours for a Tier 2 wildland fire at 5251 Sierra Road, several thousand feet high in the eastern foothills above Alum Rock Park. A car had gone over the side of the road about 40 feet and ignited grass. The occupants safely escaped injury on the very steep-sloping hillside. Don Gilbert and John Whiteside responded to San Jose Station 6 to take Fire Support Unit 2 to the scene, departing at 1520. Guest Ken Needham assisted Don and John upon arrival.
The fire spread quickly and the San Jose response escalated to a Tier 3 at 1501, which started Santa Clara County Fire wildland units enroute. CAL FIRE sent a high-level response (7 engines, 2 dozers, 4 hand crews, air attack and Copter 106); Spring Valley VFD responded with an engine, 2 patrols, water tender; and Milpitas Fire sent an engine. Various Overhead units from the above agencies also responded. The Tier 3 was soon cancelled leaving San Jose, CAL FIRE, and Spring Valley units to handle the event.
Photo By John Whiteside
Air tankers made retardant drops along the west flank holding the fire in check along with a scratch line, Sierra Road stopped the spread to the north, and a line held on the east side. Meanwhile, mobile units drove downhill into the fire area to attack the remaining fire that was burning in light fuels. Copter 106 made several water drops.
After serving crews stationed along Sierra Road, FSU-2 was directed to proceed down into the bowl where the crews were working, providing cold drinks and CLIF bars to the personnel. The fire was contained at 12 acres. FSU-2 was released and returned home by 1915 after restocking its supply of ice from San Jose FD’s ice machine and refueling.
-- Report submitted by John Whiteside