A smokey, wind-whipped grass fire flared up on the ridgelands overlooking Ivy and Descanso drives in Orinda shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, prompting a rare Four-Alarm response and a massive turnout by area firefighters.
Roughly 90 firefighters from several local agencies rushed to fight the blaze, which consumed 9 acres of grassland and briefly threatened homes in the area before crews were able to declare it under control at 3 p.m.
Photo, right: Smoke from Monday’s blaze could be seen – and smelled – for miles. Photo credit: Edna Huelsenbeck
Investigators said the blaze started in the area of 80 Ivy Drive and was quickly upgraded from two alarms to three at around 1:50 p.m. when arriving firefighters were able to assess the wind speed and conditions at the scene. Students were evacuated from nearby Orinda Intermediate School by bus.
High winds over the ridgetop pushed the blaze near homes in Orinda Oaks Park and blew drift smoke into Moraga and Lafayette – prompting calls from concerned residents worried about fire in their cities. CalFire helicopters ferried water into the area and fire commanders triggered the fourth alarm – a relatively rare occurrence for incidents in Lamorinda.
Two firefighters reported suffering minor burns. Some thirty pieces of wildland and firefighting apparatus from the Moraga-Orinda Fire District, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, East Bay Regional Park fire department, San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District and the Oakland Fire Department was brought out to help battle the blaze.
Investigators said the fire may have been triggered by a parks work crew, ironically, who may have been cutting a fire break in the area at the time.