5-alarm hearth burns Signal Hill in South San Francisco | Native Information
A five-alert vegetation fire engulfed parts of Sign Hill in South San Francisco just after noon on Friday and was contained in about two hours.
Just three hours later, a four-alarm fire broke out in the industrial park south of the city center.
Police in South San Francisco said two teenagers who were spotted by an alerted resident leaving the scene immediately after the fire started were identified and questioned. The two 14- and 16-year-olds admitted to being responsible for starting the fire. They have been released to the family pending the investigation, police said.
The Sign Hill fire threatened homes and mandatory evacuations were ordered, but ultimately no homes were destroyed and no one was injured. However, there was minor structural damage, firefighters said. It is not yet known how many acres were burned or what caused the fire.
Mandatory evacuations were issued for Carnelian Road, Sonja Road, Mountain Road, Ridgeview Court and Viewmont Terrance and remained in effect from 3:30 p.m. as crews performed mop-up work and continued to extinguish burns. A temporary evacuation center has been set up in the MSB Social Hall at 33 Arroyo Drive.
Flames burned through vegetation, including particularly flammable eucalyptus trees, to the left of the South San Francisco The Industrial City sign, and the rising smoke could be seen from a distance. Winds carried the smoke to the southwest over Pacifica and briefly colored the sky red there.
More than 25 fire engines, as well as helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, responded to the fire. At its height, residents lined the sidewalks nervously watching firefighters work to contain the flames, and some of them could be seen spraying their homes.
South San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Heather Enders said that in the spring and for the first time in years, city officials cleared the vegetation and set up fire breaks on Sign Hill that helped contain the fire.
“We have really worked to prepare in time to ensure that lives and homes are protected,” she said. “We knew this was coming.”
Enders noted that Friday weather, which reached 90 degrees with low humidity and dry winds, was particularly ripe for a fire. A red flag warning was in effect across the Bay Area that day.
Shortly after the fire in Sign Hill was contained, another fire with four alarm structures broke out on Starlite Street, which was contained shortly afterwards. Larch Avenue between Kearny Street and Lincoln Street has been evacuated, police said.
The fires in South San Francisco occurred less than a month after a four-alarm vegetation fire broke out in Belmont that evacuated around 40 households. This fire was also contained within hours with no injuries and no homes destroyed.