California Firefighters Supress 13 Acre Grass Fire; Businesses and Homes Were Endangered

A 13-acre grass fire fueled by strong winds Friday afternoon burned dangerously close to residences and businesses near Hilltop mall before firefighters controlled it.

Two adults from a nearby apartment complex went to a local hospital with fire-related injuries. One may have had a heart attack, said Richmond fire Capt. Angel Bobo.

Fire officials said the blaze did not cause significant property damage, but it blackened much of a recreational area popular with walkers and dog owners.

The fire began beside a path near the intersection of Blume Drive and Auto Mall Plaza.

Firefighters first received calls about the blaze at 2 p.m. and brought it under control about 90 minutes later.

The fire reached the perimeter of a parking lot filled with new cars from nearby dealerships, where it engulfed two new white Pontiacs.

Dealership employees quickly moved other cars out of the fire's path while firefighters doused the flames.

Bobo said a child in the nearby Hilltop Bayview apartment complex suffered from asthma because of the heavy smoke. Leaping flames had burned within yards of the complex before firefighters arrived and ordered some residents to evacuate.

Residents of another nearby housing development watered the edges of their properties as flames approached.

The fire may have started near the car dealerships and traveled toward the Hilltop Bayview complex, said Richmond fire investigator Ron Wiley.

With smoke visible from Interstate 80, the fire became a brief public spectacle, with dozens of onlookers parking their cars in the Hilltop mall parking lot and watching the flames from a nearby ridge.

Nine fire engines from Richmond and El Cerrito fought the fire. Hand crews and a bulldozer worked into the evening extinguishing hot spots, Bobo said.