A fire of unknown origin burned two acres of Stanford land off Interstate Highway 280 in Palo Alto Monday afternoon. The grassland blaze caused a traffic backup northbound from El Monte Road in Los Altos to north of Page Mill Road.
Several drivers reported the fire at 3:14 p.m. north of Page Mill Road in the grassland on the east side of the highway.
Flames burned up the hillside of dry oat grasses toward Stanford's fence line and adjacent to several trails. A cloud of smoke could be seen from California Avenue. Stanford University owns the property, a Stanford sheriff confirmed.
Palo Alto firefighters quickly attacked the blaze and extinguished the flames, Battalion Chief Niles Broussard said. There is no known cause and the case is under investigation, he said.
Broussard said erratic winds combined with a lack of rains this past winter and spring made natural fuels extra dry.
"The low humidity and wind conditions are approaching extreme, and we have to be extra careful out there," he said.