Firefighters in California Battle a Fierce Wind-Driven Wildfire East of San Francisco

California Wildfires

SAN FRANCISCO — California firefighters fought against a rapidly-moving wildfire east of San Francisco fueled by strong winds on Saturday. The fire continued into the early hours of Sunday morning in locations that stretch from the San Francisco Bay Area to Central California, according to reports from various authorities.

Known as the Corral Fire, the blaze first started on Saturday afternoon near the city of Tracy, which is approximately 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of San Francisco. The fire also reached the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, per the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

Thick clouds of smoke spread high into the atmosphere above the fire zone, which is primarily comprised of grassy hills. Strong winds were forecasted to persist throughout the night.

By late Saturday, Cal Fire reported that the fire had spread to 17.2 square miles (44.5 square kilometers) and was 13% contained. These figures were revised from an earlier report that stated the fire covered 15.6 square miles (40.4 square kilometers).

Due to reduced visibility caused by the smoke, the California Department of Transportation announced that Interstate 580, a major route connecting the San Francisco Bay Area to San Joaquin County in Central California, would be closed in both directions. The closure extends from Corral Hollow Road to Interstate 5.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Cal Fire Santa Clara Unit Chief Baraka Carter reported that two firefighters were injured while battling the blaze.

The San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services issued an evacuation order that included an area east of Interstate 580. Residents residing between Corral Hollow Road and Tracy Boulevard were instructed to evacuate their homes. Additionally, residents to the south of Tracy Boulevard were asked to prepare for potential evacuation.

The county’s emergency services office also announced an updated evacuation zone that encompasses areas west of the California Aqueduct, south of Corral Hollow Creek, west to Alameda County, and south to Stanislaus County. Residents can seek refuge at the Larch Clover Community Center in Tracy, which has been designated as a temporary evacuation point.

Cal Fire released a social media statement Saturday evening indicating that the wildfire was located near the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory’s Site 300, which is located southwest of Tracy.

Lawrence Livermore is a primary research and development institution responsible for maintaining the nuclear weapons stockpile of the United States. Its Site 300 serves as a location for “development of explosive materials as well as hydrodynamic testing and diagnostics,” as stated on the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s website.

In its description of Site 300, the website states that “our researchers can safely formulate, fabricate, and test high-explosive assemblies to assess the performance of nonnuclear weapon prototypes and components.”

Paul Rhien, a spokesperson for Lawrence Livermore, released a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday morning, confirming that the wildfire has not posed any immediate threats to the laboratory’s facilities or operations. He added that the fire had moved away from the site.

“We have been working in close partnership with Cal Fire, Alameda County Fire Dept, and other emergency services partners throughout the evening,” Rhien said. “As a precaution, we have activated our emergency operations center to monitor the situation through the weekend.”