A fire in the Palo Alto hills burned 1.5 acres on Friday afternoon, June 13, after a car swerved to avoid a deer, hit a ditch and caught fire, Palo Alto fire officials said.
The fire was reported at 2:13 p.m. in the Foothills Open Space area, which is owned by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. The male driver in a compact Audi told officials he was heading west on Page Mill Road and attempted to avoid the deer on a hairpin turn. He lost control of the car, which then hit a ditch and embankment and caught fire, said Geo Blackshire, Palo Alto Fire Department deputy chief of operations.
Lester Hendry, Palo Alto Open Space District supervising ranger, said he was alerted to the blaze after hearing a radio report from a Midpeninsula maintenance employee. He arrived on scene to find the car engulfed in flames, he said.
The fire burned at a moderate speed through oak woodland and brush, Blackshire said. No one was injured, he added.
Eight engines from multiple agencies responded, including the Palo Alto Fire, CalFire and Santa Clara County Fire departments, Blackshire said. The Palo Alto Police Department, Palo Alto Office of Emergency Services and rangers from the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District were also on scene, said Ken Dueker, director of city emergency services.
A fixed-wing aircraft dropped fire retardant, and a helicopter dropped water on the fire, Blackshire said.
Personnel from Palo Alto Fire Station 8, in Foothills Park, responded. The station usually opens June 30 but opened June 1 this year due to dry conditions, Blackshire said.
"It turned out to be the right decision. The next closest station is Station 2 on Hanover (in the valley near Stanford Research Park)," he said.
The fire was under control as of about 3:45 p.m., but Page Mill remained closed at Arastradero while crews put out hotspots and cut a fire break, Blackshire said. As of 4:30 p.m., the road closure was moved up to Foothills Park on Page Mill.