Last night on my way home from Patterson I could see a large fire in the distance. I could pretty much tell that it was in the Altamont Hills, but not the exact location.
I took a peek at my traffic app and found that traffic was backed up in both directions on the Altamont so then knew that it was somewhere along 580. You can see in the picture above that there was a lot of smoke.
I could see clouds of smoke in the sky ahead so knew that the fire had been burning for some time. As I neared my turn to home the smoke was still well north of me as the winds were blowing to the northeast.
I could also see the smoke ahead as I turned west, but it was luckily enough west that I knew I would not be affected by the smoke at home.
Throughout the evening I watched the progress of traffic using Google Maps. At times the Altamont was closed in one direction or the other and I felt sorry for anyone who was trying to head in either direction over the Altamont.
I also knew that it would make traffic very bad on Monday morning and was glad that I didn’t have an early class or meeting.
As I headed up the Altamont on my morning commute I could see the blackened patches and could just imagine what it had been like yesterday. Judging by the burn patterns the fire most likely started just off the eastbound lanes as they started to descend the Altamont. I wonder if they will be able to determine a cause and if they will report it, but my gut instinct is that someone threw something that was lit out of their window. It has been so hot and dry that the fire would have rapidly spread, especially with the high winds yesterday. The fire also jumped across two four lane stretches of highway which should have acted as firebreaks.
Here you can see vast stretches of burnt land. You can also see a few spots where fire suppressant had been dumped. They are the reddish patches in the picture. As I descended the Altamont on the way home there was also a section of the road where the fire suppressant had been dumped. You could see the path of the dump from the plane on each side and across the road.
We now have a bleak view ahead of us for the months leading up to the rainy season. Instead of golden hills we will have blackened hills. Then depending on how much rain we get it will be a beautiful green again.