Families Return Home After East San Jose Brush Fire

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – A brush fire near San Jose’s Alum Rock Park that started late Tuesday afternoon and has destroyed one home and left three firefighters with minor injuries is 75 percent contained at 120 acres, fire officials said Wednesday.

The fire was reported at 4:39 p.m. Tuesday near Lariat Lane and Claitor Way in North San Jose’s Boulder neighborhood. By around 8:50 p.m., it had grown to 100 acres.

Firefighters from the San Jose Fire Department and Cal Fire had contained the blaze to 40 percent by 8:25 p.m. Tuesday.

Eleven homes were evacuated Tuesday and the Berryessa Community Center was opened to evacuees, but residents were allowed to return home when the order was lifted late Tuesday, San Jose Fire Capt. Brad Cloutier said.

One person remains displaced from their home, which is considered destroyed. Two other homes sustained peripheral damage to fences, but the structures remain intact.

Police are controlling the area Wednesday and only letting residents in, Cloutier said.

One of the injured firefighters was taken to a hospital Tuesday for treatment and was later released.

On Wednesday, homeowners returning to their properties could see just how close the fire got to their houses.

“I was just thinking about how to get out of there,” said Kendrick Cheung.

With flames just feet away from his home, Cheung said he had no choice but to leave everything behind and run.

“As we were running out, we could barely see anything,” said Cheung.

Cheung’s next door neighbor had just woken him up to tell him his home was on fire.

The danger was spreading quickly.

“I just decided to take my granddaughter and run away,” said Beneranda Arias, who also lives in the area.

Arias said the fire burned part of her fence before firefighters stopped the flames in its tracks.

The terrain, the heat and the wind all presented challenges for firefighters.

“And the actual winds that the fire creates, it creates some kind of dynamic fire behavior,” said Cloutier. “And so sometimes you’ll get fires in one area and they’ll jump to another area.”

“They did a good, good job. If it wasn’t for them, we would not be here,” said Arias.

Cheung said the fire appeared to start near the one home that nearly burned to the ground.

I believe it started under, like on the side. So not on the home, but near it. And then it spread,” said Cheung.

The family who lost their home will not be alone, however.

Neighbors could be seen helping them sift through the debris to see what — if anything — could be salvaged.

“If they need anything, we’re always here. all the neighbors, working together,” said Cheung.

Alum Rock Park remained closed Wednesday in the aftermath of the fire. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

 

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