UPDATE: As of 9 p.m. Thursday, the Edgewood Fire was 98% contained, according to Cal Fire, up from 95% containment Thursday afternoon. More than 1,000 resident who were without power were expected to have service restored at 6 p.m. Thursday, according to PG&E.
Wednesday afternoon update:
A day after flames erupted, the Edgewood Fire burning alongside a San Mateo County nature preserve has been reduced to 20 acres and is 42% contained, according to Cal Fire officials.
"Forward progress has stopped, and we have good control," Cal Fire Incident Cmdr. and Battalion Chief Bob Simmons said Wednesday afternoon. With a complete fire hose line around the fire's perimeter, Simmons said firefighters are working on putting out internal hot spots. "I would say we're in a mop up stage. But we're still improving containment lines."
The cause of the fire remains unknown and under investigation, according to Simmons.
Meanwhile, roughly 1,300 residents in the area are still without power. According to a PG&E outage map, power was expected to be restored at 3 p.m. Wednesday, but the energy company is waiting on fire investigators for the go-ahead to access a nearby PG&E substation on Cañada Road. There's currently no estimate for when that might be, according to Cal Fire officials.
The firefighters are hoping to wrap up most of their efforts by Thursday evening, according to Simmons.
"We'll still have what we call 'patrol status,' so I'll still have a couple of engines out here," he said. "For a few days we'll have little smokes pop up as the fire burns into the old root systems. So we'll have to keep an eye on that."
Wednesday morning update:
The Edgewood Fire burning alongside a San Mateo County nature preserve has been reduced to 20 acres with 20% containment, according to a Wednesday morning briefing from Cal Fire officials.
"The structure threat has been mitigated, and they're in mop up today," meaning crews were extinguishing any residual fire to prevent spread, said Cecile Juliette, public information officer for the San Mateo County Fire Department and Cal Fire CZU.
The blaze, which erupted Tuesday afternoon in a region bounded by Woodside, Redwood City and Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve, caused local evacuation orders and left thousands of Peninsula residents without power. Evacuation orders have been lifted, allowing residents to return home Tuesday evening; however, nearly 3,500 customers remain without power, according to PG&E's outage map.
Four firefighters, including two from Cal Fire, one from the national guard and another from a local city force, suffered minor injuries and were transported to Stanford hospital. They have all since been released, according to a Cal Fire CZU official.
Juliette said that Wednesday's milder weather, with a max temperature of 96 degrees and winds up to 10 mph, are "good conditions" for the firefighting crews. Still, she added, they'll be keeping an eye on afternoon wind patterns, which can shift unexpectedly and dramatically change the course of a fire.
As for Wednesday's plan, she said "the firefighters were told to stock up on water, stay hydrated and work on improving containment lines."
Emergency responders from around the Bay Area have come out to support the local Cal Fire CZU team. As of Wednesday morning, 60 personnel were on-scene, including strike teams from Cal Fire SCU, LNU and Mendocino, as well as hand crews from Marin County Fire, Monterey Bay and Blue Ridge.
Incarcerated firefighters from the Ben Lomond Conservation Camp, including 23 inmates and three fire captains, were also battling the blaze. Ben Lomond is one of more than 35 "fire camps" statewide that provide on-the-ground support to emergency responders. Inmate firefighters earn $2.90-$5.12 per day on regular assignments and $1 per hour on emergency assignments, according to their website.
Though officials could not comment on the nature of the firefighters' injuries, Juliette said they were working right up next to the fire, battling hot temperatures, steep hills and heavy gear and equipment.
Tuesday evening update:
For Emerald Hills residents, Tuesday took a dramatic turn when a heat wave became a full-on fire evacuation. Two fires broke around 2:30 p.m., prompting evacuation orders for areas of Emerald Hills and Woodside.
Among those forced to leave were Jacqui Bellini-Murray, who just last year moved from San Carlos to Emerald Hills with her husband and teenage son. Bellini-Murray, who works remotely for a biotech company, was on a Zoom call around 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon when the power suddenly shut off.
"We just thought, 'Oh, it's really hot, no big deal,'" she said. "And then maybe 15 minutes later, my husband … was sitting in the backyard, and he's like, 'There's smoke. It looks like maybe there's a fire.'"
They watched as smoke plumed and planes swooped down, dumping water and fire retardant over the mountains. Not 45 minutes later, an official from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office knocked on their door and ordered them to evacuate.
"We probably were out of there within ten minutes," she said.
Like many others from the Emerald Hills neighborhood, Bellini-Murray and her family have found themselves staying in a hotel mere minutes away on the other side of Redwood City.
"We're in a hotel and just kind of camping," she said, laughing in disbelief. "Just a little bit ago, I ordered DoorDash, and the front desk is just slammed … It's all evacuees, which sounds so weird, right?"
As of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the six-alarm Edgewood Fire, which was in a canyon, had spread to 25 acres in a corner of land between Woodside, Redwood City and Edgewood County Park. It was not contained, fire officials said at a press conference.
The fire was moving in a north to northwest direction toward Cañada Road and areas in south Woodside and toward the town. Air tankers were dropping both water and significant amounts of fire retardant, and would continue until it fell dark, according to Chief Rob Lindner of the Woodside Fire Protection District. Officials said they were aggressively attacking the blaze.
Wind was not a threat but high heat temperatures were expected to hold through the night and would require continued monitoring.
The Sheriff's Office said that evacuations had been completed, but if conditions change to expand the evacuation zone, people would be asked to leave immediately if so ordered. An evacuee center has been set up at the Redwood City Veterans Memorial Senior Center at 1455 Madison Ave.
Abigail Keyes, who currently resides in Washington state, happened to be spending the weekend with her parents at their home in Emerald Hills. The family stepped out Tuesday early afternoon to mail a package at Woodside Plaza, but when they arrived, the UPS store was without power and redirected them elsewhere. That, plus the rising smoke in the distance, tipped them off.
"We came back to an evacuation warning," Keyes said. She called her partner at home, and while they were on the phone, the warning became an order. Soon after, Redwood City Ppolice officers and Ccounty Sheriff's Deputies were on the ground, going door-to-door.
Cañada College is accepting large animals that have been evacuated, Robert Marshall, San Mateo Consolidated Fire's deputy fire chief, said. The Sheriff's Office added that the animals can be brought to the staging area at parking lot 6.
One firefighter who was on the front lines was injured and taken by ambulance to Stanford Hospital. His condition is unknown. No structures have burned and there are no other injuries, Jonathan Cox, deputy chief of Cal Fire's San Mateo County division, said.
Interstate Highway 280 remained open but was experiencing significant smoke and could do so again Tuesday evening. The California Highway Patrol was evaluating whether there will be any traffic diversions. The on- ramps at Edgewood Road and Jefferson Avenue were closed.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, PG&E spokesperson Karly Hernandez said in an email. The PG&E substation on Cañada Road was under threat from the fire and crews were stationed at the site, officials at the press conference said. The fire has caused significant blackouts including parts of Stanford University (where classes were canceled on Wednesday), Redwood City, Woodside and San Carlos. An outage map is available at pge.com.
An Almanac reporter who was in the Emerald Hills area said she heard a loud explosion followed by a power outage.
The Colton Fire, at Colton Court to the south, was contained shortly before 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Original story from Tuesday afternoon:
Areas of Emerald Hills and Woodside are under evacuation orders Tuesday afternoon after two fires broke out after a transformer blew around 2:30 p.m.
A grass fire has reportedly burned 15 to 20 acres, is threatening homes and has the potential to jump Interstate Highway 280, according to fire officials' radio transmissions.
The Woodside Fire Protection District and CAL Fire's local CZU unit are on the scene of the fires. The Edgewood Fire was burning at Edgewood County Park and Nature Preserve in the area of at Edgewood Road and Crestview Drive and the Colton Fire at Colton Court to the south. The Colton Fire was contained shortly before 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Fire officials recommended the California Highway Patrol shut down southbound 280, Cañada Road and Godetia Drive to traffic around 4 p.m., according to radio traffic.
As of 4:25 p.m. areas under evacuation order included Woodside, east of Cañada Road to Cañada College and Emerald Hills near the Elks Lodge and Golf Course.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Ethan Peterson took to social media at 4:56 p.m. on Tuesday to give an update on the Edgewood Fire that has been tearing through the Emerald Hills area of San Mateo County and prompting evacuations.
He also said that "numerous" fire resources are on scene including air support and more will be responding.
"It's looking good right now," said Peterson. "If we can hold it at 20 acres, it will be looking good."
San Mateo County Parks announced the closure of Edgewood County Park and Nature Preserve at about 4 p.m. and asked the public to stay out of the area to allow for emergency crews' access.
Power outages are also being reported on the Peninsula, including in the Emerald Hills area. An outage map is at pge.com.
There are currently thousands of people without power along the San Mateo County Peninsula, according to Pacific Gas and Electric.
The outages, as of 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, span from Hillsborough down through the Emerald Lake Hills area that is now battling a 20-acre grass fire.
San Mateo is the hardest hit, with at least 5,000 people without power, according to PG&E. Areas of between 500 and 4,999 customers affected are Hillsborough, San Carlos, and Redwood City.
Check Zonehaven for evacuation details at community.zonehaven.com.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.