Though Fourth of July brought Contra Costa County’s largest vegetation fire of 2021, the number of Independence Day incidents was actually down from 2020.
A beefed-up Contra Costa County Fire Protection District was nevertheless busy Sunday, responding to 53 reports of fires, most of those fireworks-related and between 9 p.m. and midnight. Forty-eight fires burned only vegetation, with five involving structures. None of the structure fires went to a second alarm.
“We had a high level of activity,” said Con Fire spokesman Steve Hill. “But we started planning for it pretty much the day after last Fourth of July. We put a lot of preparation into it.”
Overall, incidents were down 20 percent from 2020, Hill said, despite conditions being much worse this year.
“The weather was our friend,” Hill said this week. “There were lower temperatures and higher humidity. It was windy up until 8 or 8:30 (Sunday) night. Which worked out pretty well.”
Con Fire got help from Cal Fire corralling a 35-acre blaze off Kirker Pass Road near Pittsburg, started by a car fire just after 1 p.m. There were also two small fires started by the Con Fire-approved fireworks show at the Concord Pavilion. Both were extinguished quickly at the scene by firefighters there just for that reason.
Hill said two other county-sanctioned fireworks shows went off without incident. He said the professional shows can actually work in firefighters’ favor.
“They give people an outlet, and perhaps keep illegal fireworks shows off the streets,” Hill said.
The county’s most serious structure fire occurred on Ross Circle in Martinez, starting in vegetation and spreading via fence line to some exterior structures.
Most of the fire-related calls came in the Pittsburg-Antioch area. Seven occurred in Concord, two in Pleasant Hill, two in Martinez, and one in Walnut Creek. The only calls in West County came from El Sobrante and San Pablo.
Hill said there were also fireworks-related medical calls.