Crews Battle 7 Grass Fires near Byron Highway

BYRON — Fire officials say crews are battling seven vegetation fires that have spread across 484 acres between Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

The flames are burning along Byron Highway near Clifton Court Forebay, a reservoir in the San Joaquin River Delta region.

As of Thursday evening, Cal Fire reports the wildfires, which have been collectively called the Grant Fire, were 100 percent contained.

Into early Thursday morning, the fire was tough to control because of strong winds.

Cal Fire said the Grant Fire was originally one small fire that quickly turned in seven different fires in the same area because of the 35 mph wind gusts. Eventually, the fires destroyed one trailer home and several barn-like structures.

The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District says in a Facebook post that Alameda County Fire is also helping fight the blazes that started Wednesday afternoon. A Cal Fire helicopter is also assisting with water drops.

"The winds the last day and a half have been extraordinary and have really caused some difficulties in fighting the fires," said East Contra Costa Fire Protection Public Information Officer Ross Macumber.

On Thursday, Macumber said his crews were keeping the wind on their minds, even though the Grant Fire was almost contained.

"Winds are still pretty high today," he said. "So we want to keep these units out here all day to make sure nothing flares up and that none of these fires flare up again."

People who live near the fires were told to prepare for an evacuation.

Jeff Hoogendoorn was enjoying lunch in Byron when he spotted something out the corner of his eye.

"I saw smoke and headed back out here and that's when I saw the fire," he said.

Hoogendorn loaded up his dog, Bandit, in his tractor and began creating a fire line along his property to protect his 1,200 acres of land. Hoogendorn lost about 50 acres but said he was more concerned about Bandit, who had run away during the fire.

"Finally when I found him his face was all tore up. You can see the scratches like he went through a barbed wired fence," Hoogendoorn told FOX40.

Around 3 p.m. Wednesday, Alameda County Fire officials ordered a shelter in place for students and staff at Mountain House School. Everyone was able to leave the school safely.

Byron Highway was reopened to traffic at 8 p.m. Mountain House and West Grant Line roads are expected to be closed until 5 p.m. Thursday.

"This is just a great reminder for everyone throughout the area that fire season's here. Fires are occurring and the time to prepare for that is now," Cox cautioned.

Cal Fire told FOX40 the investigation into what sparked the fire is under investigation.