‘The Fire Just Explodes’: Gilroy’s Crews Fire Grows To Over 1500 Acres; Homes Threatened, Residents Evacuated

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GILROY (CBS SF) — The Crews Fire continued its march toward Highway 152 early Monday morning, but calming winds and hundreds of firefighters were slowing the blaze’s advance through the sparsely populated hills and grasslands near Gilroy.

By early Monday, the blaze had grown to over 1500 acres and was just 15 percent contained. The gusty winds that had whipped up the blaze on Sunday had died down to gentle gusts overnight, aiding the firefighters efforts.

The fire erupted in the grasslands along Crews Rd. at around 2:45 p.m. At the time, firefighting efforts were focused farther north near the Anderson Reservior where the Park Fire was still raging. By late Sunday night that blaze had been all but halted at 343 acres and was 70 percent contained.

Evacuated residents near Anderson Lake had been allowed to return to their homes. But just as firefighters were getting a handle on the Park Fire, the Crews Fire began growing rapidly.

Steve Carter has property along Cañada Road. He watched as winds whipped the blaze into a wall of flames that advanced toward his property.

“It’s just like a bomb — the fire just explodes,” he told KPIX 5. “It got windy and spread massively.”

For a time it looked like his property would be spared, but then the blaze changed directions.

“The wind shifted and it started back to the west,” he said. “Then it’s coming right down my property line. Then it’s on my property. Then it’s on the parcel below mine — just that quick.”

The 15-20 homes in the area were quickly evacuated. Two structures burned with others threatened. Dozens of horse trailers lined up on Crews Road as a group called Cowboy 911 rushed to the scene to help ranchers evacuate their livestrock.

Fire crews from Oakland, Fremont, Alameda County and other nearby communities rushed to join the fight. Several hundred including Cal Fire strike teams were on the fire lines by Sunday night.

There have no injuries reported among the firefighters. A cause for the blaze has yet to be determined.

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