Monday, August 10, 2015

Car Fire Along Hwy. 101 Results in Quick-Moving Grass Fire

Photo By John Whitaker
Shortly before 1:30 P.M. on Monday afternoon, August 10, a car pulled over to the right hand shoulder of northbound Hwy. 101 near Metcalf Rd. In and of itself, that would not be a big deal. The problem -- it was on fire!
With winds gusting in the area, the blaze quickly spread to the adjacent grassland. Calls to the San Jose Fire Department had the blaze burning in a variety of locations, but responding engine crews quickly reported "...a large header rising just south of Hwy. 101 intersection with Hwy. 85." Before a Battalion Chief was even on scene, the responding engine companies recommended a Tier 2 response.
The Tier 2 also included a "heavy" response from Cal Fire. This meant that not only were many Cal Fire type-3 engines responding, but also included an air tanker, Copter 106, and a dozer. Although the air tanker and dozer were not utilized, Copter 106 made many water drops to aid fire crews on the ground.
Photo By John Whitaker
John Whitaker had been listening to the fire on his emergency radio scanner and, as soon as fire crews began arriving, he could tell that this was going to require a Support Unit response. He got on the phone and contacted Don Gilbert to see if he was going to be available when called by SJFD. He said he was and volunteered to bring FSU-2. Shortly after their phone conversation, FASCV pagers "announced" the need for a support unit.
John Whitaker went in his personal vehicle to the staging area on Metcalf Rd. over Hwy. 101. Not wanting to get in the way of firefighting efforts, and because of some blowing smoke, John remained there until Don arrived with FSU-2. By that time, things had calmed down a little bit and John joined Don as they drove up to the Incident Command center near the intersection of Metcalf Rd. and Malech Rd. Because crews were spread out all along the shoulder of the freeway, and up into the large, grassy area, FSU-2 remained on Metcalf Rd. and waited for crews to come and get re-hydrated. After a while, FASCV member George Hoyt arrived on scene along with FASCV guest Ken Needham.
With the area mostly covered by short, dry grass, and a few trees and bushes, crews made short work of the mop-up effort. Most firefighters on scene came through the Rehab area to get re-hydrated before returning to their stations. FSU-2 was released at approximately 3:45 P.M.
-- Report submitted by John Whitaker