1st major California wildfire of the year 75% contained after burning 14,000 acres

Strong winds and dry grass "have made it difficult to contain," officials said.

June 3, 2024, 2:56 PM

The first major California wildfire of the year was 75% contained Monday after high winds caused it to spread over the weekend to 14,168 acres, officials said.

The Corral Fire is burning in San Joaquin County about 50 miles outside San Francisco, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire ignited Saturday around 2:30 p.m. PT near the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Altamont Pass area of Northern California's Diablo Range and spread into Stanislaus Stanislaus County, reaching the western edge of Tracy, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

As the wind-whipped fire grew out of control on Saturday, a Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority bus with passengers aboard stalled out as the fire approached it, causing the driver to evacuate passengers and get them out of harm's way before the flames caught the bus on fire, officials said.

"We are incredibly grateful to our driver for her composure and professionalism during this incident as well as to our passengers who all worked together in an extremely stressful moment," Adam Barth, CEO of Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority, said in a statement to ABC affiliate station KXTV in Sacramento. "Additionally, we thank the CHP for their quick action to ensure the safety of our passengers and driver."

The Corral Fire also prompted the California Highway Patrol to close all lanes of Interstate 580, a major traffic artery through the Altamont Pass, on Saturday after heavy smoke and fire forced eastbound vehicles on the highway to turn around and head westbound, officials said.

All lanes of Interstate 580 were reopened Sunday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

More than 475 firefighters and air tankers managed to get the upper hand on the fire Sunday and into Monday after winds died down, enabling crews to increase containment from about 30% to 75%, Cal Fire officials said.

"Weather conditions became more favorable for firefighters, allowing crews to make progress constructing and improving control lines," Cal Fire said in an updated statement Monday.

Two firefighters were injured in the blaze, said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Josh Silveira. He said one firefighter had minor injuries and the other had moderate injuries.

In this image from an AlertCalifornia/UC San Diego monitoring camera, smoke rises from the Corral Fire near the city of Tracy, Calif., Saturday, June 1, 2024.

"This is a reminder fire season is year-round. Despite the wet winter, the fuels are now dry. Californians should know the fire threat," Silveira told ABC News.

Silveira said the Corral Fire was burning in a rural area covered with thick, dry grass up to 4 feet tall in some parts.

"When everything lined up yesterday with the higher temperatures, strong winds and dry fuels, it became hard for firefighters to stop," Silveira said.

Silveira said winds, which fueled the fire Saturday night, substantially died down on Sunday, enabling fire crews to make progress on containing the blaze.

Silveira said one structure was burned in the fire and more than 100 homes were evacuated. The evacuation orders were lifted Sunday evening.

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