UPDATE: As of 6:30 a.m. Thursday, the Edgewood Fire was 90% contained, according to Cal Fire, up from 80% containment Wednesday evening. More than 1,000 resident are still without power with expected restoration at 6 p.m. Thursday, according to PG&E.
UPDATE: As of 6:07 p.m. Wednesday, the Edgewood Fire was 80% contained, according to Cal Fire, up from 42% containment Wednesday afternoon.
“The structure threat has been mitigated, and they’re in mop up today,” meaning extinguishing any residual fire to prevent spread, said Cecile Juliette, public information officer for the San Mateo County Fire Department and Cal Fire CZU, at a Wednesday morning briefing.
The blaze, which erupted Tuesday afternoon in a region bounded by Woodside, Redwood City and Edgewood Park & 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 a PG&E 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 today’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.
As of 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Edgewood fire was 20% contained, according to Cal Fire, up from 5% containment Tuesday night at 9 p.m., when evacuation orders in the area were downgraded to warnings.
Areas of Emerald Hills and Woodside were under evacuation orders Tuesday, June 21, afternoon after two fires broke around 2:30 p.m.
As of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the six-alarm Edgewood Fire, which was in a canyon, had spread to over 20 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 San Mateo County 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.
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?”
Cañada College was accepting large animals that have been evacuated, said Robert Marshall, San Mateo Consolidated Fire's deputy fire chief. The San Mateo County 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 were no other injuries, said Jonathan Cox, deputy chief of Cal Fire's San Mateo County division.
Interstate 280 remained open but was experiencing significant smoke Tuesday evening. The California Highway Patrol was evaluating whether there will be any traffic diversions. The onramps at Edgewood Road and Jefferson Avenue were closed.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Pacific Gas and Electric spokeswoman 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, Redwood City, Woodside and San Carlos. An outage map is 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.
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.
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's access.
Fire departments from Palo Alto to South San Francisco had been called in to put out the blaze, according to Woodside's Chief Lindner, along with San Mateo County Fire and Cal Fire.
Check Zonehaven for evacuation details here.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.
Redwood City Pulse reporter Leah Worthington and Almanac Editor Andrea Gemmet contributed to this report.