As if the torching of the area around one of the nation's most treasured natural resources wasn't enough, now one of the Bay Area's own iconic natural jewels is ablaze as well.

While the stubborn conflagration near Yosemite National Park known as the Rim fire is still only about 85 percent contained, a significant wildfire has erupted on our beloved Mt. Diablo and has gained the attention of firefighting crews from all over the Bay Area.

Those crews worked through the night on Sunday battling both the blaze and the steep landscape. Giant air tankers began blanketing the fire area on Monday morning. Temperatures that hovered in the high 90s didn't help matters any, but at least the winds were reasonably calm.

Smoke pours from Mt. Diablo in this view of the Morgan Fire from Northgate High School in Concord, Calif. on Sept. 9, 2013. (Dan Hatfield/Staff)
Smoke pours from Mt. Diablo in this view of the Morgan Fire from Northgate High School in Concord, Calif. on Sept. 9, 2013. (Dan Hatfield/Staff)

The fire began near Morgan Territory Road and quickly spread as it fed on parched ground cover and trees. By Monday morning more than 3,300 acres were burning.

On Sunday night some residents who lived near Clayton had to be evacuated and city and fire officials held their collective breath as to whether the fire might quickly come down the mountainside and engulf the town of 12,000.

Residents in the much larger city of Concord, which abuts Clayton, also felt threatened. But the fire move south instead of north, which caused worry thoughtout the San Ramon Valley.

No one who was in the Bay Area in 1991 should forget what the Oakland Hills fire taught us: A small spark plus rugged terrain plus lots of fuel can equal disaster. Speed and thoroughness of response are everything in such instances.


Advertisement

It is far too early to even speculate as to a cause of the Mt. Diablo fire, but officials remain convinced that the Rim fire near Yosemite was caused by a hunter's campfire and that just boggles the mind.

Any outdoorsman has to understand where we live. They must understand that California has relatively little moisture for huge portions of the year, which means there is a lot of combustible fuel.

Fire danger is very real and there are good reasons fires are prohibited in some areas. If the state catches the person who set the Rim fire, he or she should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The same would hold true should it be determined that the Mt. Diablo fire was caused by careless human activity.

Such fires are scary events, but they become doubly frightening when they occur on difficult terrain and strike close to home.

We, along with the rest of the Bay Area, continue to hold our breath as fire crews continue their difficult battle to get the upper hand.