Coming extreme heat is bad news for a sizable California wildfire

Firefighters got the upper hand on a grass fire that began Saturday afternoon in San Joaquin County, California, but dangerous heat threatens to worsen the situation in the coming days.

The Corral Fire began in the City of Tracy around 2:30 p.m. and had consumed 14,000 acres as of Sunday evening, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The flames were 50% contained, the department said on X. The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to the department.

The fire forced evacuations in Tracy, California, and some surrounding areas over the weekend, but the evacuation orders were downgraded to warnings on Sunday afternoon.

But the evacuees were warned to the situation could change again as gusty winds and hotter temperatures return.

“Residents are advised to remain vigilant and prepared for potential changes,” CalFire warned in a news release.

A resident evacuates his horse as the Corral Fire bears down on ranches west of Tracy, California, on June 1, 2024. - Kent Porter/The Press Democrat/AP
A resident evacuates his horse as the Corral Fire bears down on ranches west of Tracy, California, on June 1, 2024. - Kent Porter/The Press Democrat/AP

Two Alameda County firefighters were injured while responding to the fire, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Josh Silveira told CNN early Sunday morning. They had minor to moderate injuries and were transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment, Silveira said.

“Praying for our Tracy neighbors and first responders,” Mayor Kevin J Lincoln, of the neighboring City of Stockton, said on social media late Saturday night.

A section of I-580 was closed in both directions due to the “major grass fire, smoke, and zero visibility,” according to the California Department of Transportation. It has since reopened.

The fire could spread again Tuesday in gusty winds up to 30 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento. Sweltering heat into the upcoming week could multiply dangerous fire conditions.

“An Excessive Heat Watch across the Valley and adjacent foothills for Tuesday into Thursday continues with afternoon highs of 95-107˚F forecasted,” the weather service said.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection recently suspended all residential outdoor burning of landscape debris such as branches and leaves in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and western San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

The department said the suspension was due to increasing fire danger posed by the hot, dry conditions in the region. Also contributing are warming temperatures and winds that make for a high volume of dead grass. Firefighters have responded to over 1,200 wildfires across the state so far this year, the department said Friday.

“As the summer heat intensifies, CAL FIRE Santa Clara Unit’s commitment and unwavering efforts remain steadfast in safeguarding California’s communities from wildfires. By staying vigilant and following fire safety and prevention guidelines, we can work together to mitigate the risk and protect our communities,” Santa Clara Unit Chief Baraka Carter said.

CNN’s Cindy Von Quednow contributed to this report.

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