Residents of Healdsburg, Calif., fill up with gasoline after authorities ordered the evacuation of the city on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, ahead of strong winds that could fan the Kincade fire. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Major fire near Carquinez Bridge in Vallejo; Interstate 80 closed, evacuations underway

Firefighters on Sunday were battling a fast-moving fire that erupted near the Carquinez Bridge, which connects Contra Costa County to Vallejo in Northern California, and quickly spread south of the Carquinez Strait, which connects California’s two largest rivers to San Francisco Bay.

Officials called an evacuation warning for all of Crockett, an unincorporated community of about 3,000 people on the northwestern edge of Contra Costa County. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for the southern half of the town.

The fire, which spread fast after 9 a.m., started close to the Interstate 80 toll plaza north of the Carquinez Strait, Vallejo Fire Department spokesman Kevin Brown said on KGO-TV, then spread both east and west of the freeway fast. It threatened the Vallejo neighborhood of Glencove to the east and the Maritime Academy to the west. Several vehicles burned and two firefighters suffered minor injuries due to heat exposure.

Flames were then spotted south of the Carquinez Strait, possibly due to flying embers creating spot fires in Crockett.

Just south of some of the flames is the Phillips 66 San Francisco Refinery in the Rodeo area.

Interstate 80 was closed.

The Maritime Academy serves about 1,000 students and offers undergraduate degrees in engineering, transportation, international relations, business and global logistics. The campus was safely evacuated, administrators said in a tweet.

At least one car was seen catching on fire, according to helicopter images televised by KGO-TV. Earlier, homeowners were seen with garden hoses trying to get down golden-brown hillsides full of tinder-dry grass.

Earlier Sunday in eastern Contra Costa County, fire officials got the upper hand on three fires in rural neighborhoods that prompted evacuations _ two in Oakley along the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and one in a small, rural neighborhood of Clayton in the mountainous area east of the peak of Mt. Diablo.

“Miraculously, over the string fires” over a six-hour period early Sunday, “only one structure was damaged,” said Steve Hill, spokesman for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, a gas station on Bethel Island in the delta. All evacuations have been lifted for those three eastern Contra Costa County fires.

By Rong-Gong Lin II

Los Angeles Times

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