By Maria Medina

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — A small but intense fire fueled by the heat wave and wind destroyed two cars and injured their owner Thursday evening.

“This fire moved very quickly, we were kind of lucky in that we were a few blocks away with a different incident and we were releasing units when we saw the column of smoke,” said San Jose Fire Capt. Mitch Matlow. “We are seeing the kinds of fuel moistures right now that we would typically see in September or October before.”

Matlow said the drought has robbed moisture typically found in vegetation this time of year, which causes fires to spread aggressively. He said there is concern for the potential for fast-moving, aggressive fires heading into the July 4 holiday and cautioned the public to think twice about lighting illegal fireworks.

Thursday’s fire burned vegetation off of McKee Road and Highway 101 near the off-ramp. It came close to a couple of homes.

Neighbors said the homeowner who was burned had been trying to protect his cars and property. The fire burned part of the fence he had just built, neighbors said.

“Then he went back to try and get stuff from his house,” said Brian Cromosini.

Brian and his brother, Chris Cromosini, jumped into action when they saw his neighbor had burns on his arm.

“I said, ‘Let me get you some water, anything to douse’ because he had second-degree burns, it was pretty bad,” Cromisini said.

The pair also ran across the street to an elderly neighbor’s home to spray water on her backyard where they saw smoke.

“You couldn’t even see anything, my eyes were burning,” Chris said. “But do whatever you can to help, I guess.”

Residents of the cul-de-sac beside the vegetation by the freeway said the area catches on fire every year and the brush never gets trimmed. No one knew for sure who owned the property. KPIX called CalTrans to ask whether the agency owned the property. A spokesperson said they would look into it.

“It’s going to happen again on the other side,” said Al who didn’t want to give his last name. “They don’t do nothing, you know. Every year the same thing.”

“It’s pretty frustrating but also kind of scary because, I mean, they have kids right here,” said Melissa Cromosini. “It’s every single year. This is the worst it’s been and that’s pretty bad. Two cars and the guy is lucky he got out.”

The cause of the fire is still unknown but the residents all agreed what happened could have been prevented had the vegetation been maintained.

“We were able to help somewhat so that’s all we can be really thankful for,” Cromosini said.