Shortly before 3:00 P.M. on Monday, June 27, County Fire received reports of a car fire on Hwy. 17 near Redwood Estates in the mountains above Los Gatos. Shortly after the initial report, there were additional reports from more callers and then from the CHP of the fire spreading to the grass — and then the CHP report was, “The whole hill is on fire!”
Additional resources were dispatched, including a full Cal Fire response, and mutual aid from Santa Cruz County, along with Santa Clara County Fire’s Level 2 brush response.
Upon arrival, Battalion 83 quickly determined there was a major threat to the homes in the area as the fire was spreading quickly in thick Santa Cruz Mountains brush. The IC requested two Type 1 Immediate-Need Strike Teams for structure protection, and Cal Fire upgraded their response, adding more hand crews and air tankers. San Jose Fire filled one of the Type I strike teams with their five closest engines, backfilling their region with resources from around San Jose. The second strike team was made up of units from Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, and NASA Ames Fire.
From Los Gatos Boulevard a large header was visible in the Mountains and it was clear that today there was going to be a fire fight.
Don Gilbert and John Whiteside responded to San Jose Fire Station 6 and picked up Fire Support Unit 2. Traveling to the incident was problematic as Highway 17 was closed in both directions and traffic was extremely heavy. Under code 3 escort, the Fire Support rig made it way up Highway 17. Then, leaving the highway, FSU-2 made its way to Redwood Fire Station where they established Rehab.
Back at the fire fight, with aerial attack underway, there were many residences, cars, and fire apparatus covered in pink goo from above. Bulldozers went to work to create a fire break, while hand crews and engine crews were working on cutting lines and doing fire suppression. The fire had worked its way away from the highway and into the hills, but the fire-damaged trees were still threatening to fall across the highway, presenting yet another problem that would need to be resolved before the highway could be reopened to traffic.
With an incredible response, a large number of resources, and dedicated crews, the fire was contained before it could damage any residences. By around 9:00 P.M., they were able to open one southbound lane on Hwy. 17, with northbound having been opened earlier in the evening. Mop-up operations continued overnight.
The Fire Associates crew at Redwood Fire Station were kept busy in Rehab, with fire crews coming and going throughout the evening. Along with all the municipal and state crews, 5 inmate hand crews came through Rehab. 200 burritos were obtained and served for dinner, until there were no more. Fire Support Unit 2 was released around midnight and was back in quarters around 12:30 A.M.
— Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki