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Corral Fire continues in San Joaquin county, California. The Guardian

California Firefighters Battle Wind-Driven Wildfire Near San Francisco

The Guardian
June 2, 2024

Area: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose

TRACY, California - California firefighters aided by aircraft battled a wind-driven wildfire that began Saturday and continued burning early Sunday morning in an area straddling the San Francisco Bay Area and central California, authorities said.

The Corral Fire began Saturday afternoon near the city of Tracy, 60 miles (96km ) east of San Francisco, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the city of Livermore, according to the California department of forestry and fire protection, or Cal Fire.

Dark plumes of smoke traveled high into the sky over the fire area comprised mostly of grassy hills, where strong winds were expected to continue overnight.

On Sunday morning, Cal Fire announced that the fire had spanned 12,500 acres and was 15% contained. “Strong winds and dry grass have made it difficult to contain,” it added.

Speaking to Fox 7, Cal Fire battalion chief Josh Silveira said, “We had an extremely wet couple of years, which allowed the grass to grow in really tall, really thick. We call it a light, flashy fuel because it is so fine. It’s very receptive to the fire,” Silveira said.

Interstate 580, which connects the San Francisco Bay Area to San Joaquin county in central California, was closed in both directions from Corral Hollow Road to Interstate 5 due to the lack of visibility from the smoke, the California department of transportation said in a statement.

Two Alameda county firefighters were injured, according to Alameda county public affairs manager Cheryl Hurd.

In a statement on Saturday evening, Hurd said, “Two ACFD Firefighters suffered minor to moderate burn injuries,” adding that they have been transported to local hospitals, Patch reports.

The San Joaquin county office of emergency services issued an evacuation order, pinpointing the wildfire in an area east of Interstate 580. Residents between Corral Hollow Road and Tracy Boulevard were ordered to leave their homes, with residents south of Tracy Boulevard told to be prepared for evacuation.

An evacuation update included areas west of the California Aqueduct south of Corral Hollow Creek, west to Alameda county and south to Stanislaus county. A temporary evacuation point was established at Larch Clover Community Center in Tracy, the county emergency services office said on its website.

In a statement on X, Stockton’s mayor, Kevin J Lincoln, wrote, “Praying for our Tracy neighbors and first responders. The city of Stockton is providing mutual-aid to the city of Tracy covering a firehouse while they are fighting the Corral Fire.”

The wildfire was near the Lawrence Livermore laboratory’s Site 300 south-west of Tracy, Cal Fire said in a social media post late Saturday.

Lawrence Livermore is a research and development institution primarily focusing on the US nuclear weapons stockpile. Site 300, 15 miles (24km) east of the laboratory’s main installation, supports “development of explosive materials as well as hydrodynamic testing and diagnostics”, according to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory website.

“Here, our researchers can safely formulate, fabricate, and test high-explosive assemblies to assess the performance of nonnuclear weapon prototypes and components,” the website says of Site 300.

The wildfire presented no threats to any laboratory facilities or operations and the fire had moved away from the site, Lawrence Livermore spokesperson Paul Rhien said in a statement to the Associated Press early on Sunday.

“We have been working in close partnership with Cal Fire, Alameda county Fire Dept, and other emergency services partners throughout the evening,” Rhien said. “As a precaution, we have activated our emergency operations center to monitor the situation through the weekend.”

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service in Sacramento has issued an excessive heat watch starting from Tuesday morning and through Thursday evening. The heat watch spans areas including Carquinez strait and delta, Sacramento valley, Northeast Foothills, northern San Joaquin valley, and portions of Shasta county.

In its warning, the NWS said that this level of heat “affects anyone without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration”. It went on to urge residents to consider canceling outdoor activities during the heat of the day.

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