Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tier 2 Vegetation Fire Burns Large Field Near Capital Expressway

Photo from ABC7 News
On Sunday afternoon, May 24, it was breezy but not very hot in San Jose. But, it was the middle day of a 3-day holiday weekend – a time when fires seem to occur all too often.
About 4:30 P.M., FASCV member John Whiteside was monitoring the fire radio when he heard Engine 35, traveling in south San Jose, report a large column of black smoke to the northeast. San Jose Dispatch replied that they had received multiple calls for a wildland fire, with possible structure involvement, and were starting a dispatch.
Being the only “south area” FASCV driver available, John began preparing to respond. At 4:46 P.M., Fire Associates was paged for a Tier 2 wildland dispatch to the east side of Capitol Expressway, between Quimby Rd. and Nieman Blvd. This area is known all too well by firefighters and Fire Associates. It is a very large, open field surrounded by a mobile home park, commercial and residential structures, and the Expressway.
John responded to the request by going to San Jose Station 35 to bring Fire Support Unit 3. He arrived on scene shortly before 5:30 P.M. and set up cold drinks and Clif bars. Soon, FASCV members Len Williams and Mike Garcia arrived, then George Hoyt, and later Mike Jensen (guest). Mike Garcia and Len later picked up 85 Togo’s sandwiches for the fire crews. FSU-3 made two trips down side streets to deliver the food to firefighting divisions.
All 7 of San Jose’s staffed brush patrols, with their engines, the 3 water tenders with their engines, plus additional engine special calls and the structure complements, made for a huge deployment of equipment in the area. Flame lengths of 20+ feet were being reported by the deployed crews.
Some impressive raw numbers from this fire: 1) 14 of San Jose's 29 type-1 Engines were on scene, 2) along with all 7 type-6 Engines, 3) all 3 Water Tenders, 4) 4 out of 5 Battalion Chiefs, and 5) at least a quarter of the SJFD Truck companies... Not a lot of resources left for the rest of the city!
Ultimately, no structures were involved. At the corner of the field, at the Expressway next to a structure, approximately 12 trees had to be dropped due to fire damage, continued burning, and an unsafe hazard to autos and pedestrians. This job was handled by a commercial tree company.
By 8:30 P.M., John returned with FSU-3 to Station 35 and was invited to dine with the Station 35 Engine and Truck crews. YUM!!
 -- Report submitted by John Whiteside