LAFAYETTE — East Bay firefighters on Sunday afternoon were battling a new brush fire near the Highway 24-Interstate 680 freeway interchange in the city of Lafayette.
The fire in Contra Costa County appeared to be burning on both sides of the 24 Freeway and was prompting some evacuations between the 680 and Acalanes High School. The five-acre fire has already burned several homes.
A Los Angeles Times reporter driving past the fire saw a hill on the west side of Highway 24 in flames, close to the freeway, and billowing a massive plume of smoke. The wind in Moraga, Orinda and Lafayette — cities just north of Oakland and Berkeley, on the other side of the East Bay hills — is howling.
Downed branches littered city streets and Highway 24. Swirling funnels of leaves showered the streets. Popular walking trails in these towns were closed because of fire danger.
In Orinda, which has been without power since about 10 p.m. Saturday, city officials arranged for food trucks to come. People lined up in front of them in the early afternoon.
Video from KNTV-TV showed that the fire started where a power line fell, leaving wires on the ground. A KNTV-TV reporter quoted a person attending the Lafayette Tennis Club Junior Open tournament in the area of Camino Court in eastern Lafayette saying that the wind shifted, a power line went down and, moments later, an explosion occurred, sparking a fire.
The evacuation area is north of Highway 24, west of Interstate 680 and east of Pleasant Hill Road. "Due to a fast-moving fire near Camino Diablo and Springbrook Road, an immediate evacuation has been ordered," authorities said. "Leave now and go toward Springhill Elementary School, 3301 Springhill Road in Lafayette. Take only those essential items you have ready and can carry with you."
At a city charging station, Ryan Yeager, 39, who works in finance, was charging medical equipment for his disabled daughter, Violet, who uses a wheelchair. He said she suffers from a disorder that requires a breathing device and a tube for nutrition.
He had ordered a $2,600 battery that was supposed to provide a few days of power, but it had not yet arrived. "I don't mind this as long as we are not having to evacuate," he said. Later in the afternoon, the town smelled strongly of smoke as the fire in Lafayette, which borders Orinda, burned.
It marked the second significant fire in the Bay Area Sunday as the region was hit by heavy winds.
Firefighters on Sunday were gaining the upper hand on a fast-moving fire that erupted near the Carquinez Bridge, which connects Contra Costa County to Vallejo in Northern California, and quickly spread into Crockett south of the Carquinez Strait, which connects California's two largest rivers to San Francisco Bay.