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Wildfire breaks out near Bay Point

Blaze near Highway 4 mostly contained but not yet tamed Thursday night

Fire crews were still working to contain a grassfire near Bay Point on Thursday night, after the blaze grew to encompass 15 acres in Contra Costa County earlier in the day.

By 4 p.m. Thursday, Cal Fire reported that the Willow Fire—named for nearby Willow Pass Road near Highway 4—was 75 percent contained. The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District designated the burn a two-alarm fire,

Though relatively small, the Willow Fire’s eastern perimeter is just two miles from Bay Point. The first calls reported the fire a few minutes after 1 p.m. Thursday.

State and local agencies have not issued any evacuation orders. The fire comes just ahead of a Fire Weather Watch that goes into effect Friday evening for an area stretching from Modesto to Redding and encompassing Antioch, east of the Willow Fire.

Neither state nor local fire officials have issued any update on the blaze since Thursday evening.

Cal Fire has responded to 969 fires so far in 2019, which burned a combined 3,416 acres. This same time last year Cal Fire recorded 1,661 fires and over 7,000 acres burned. Record rainfall for the first half of the year has left little fuel for wildfires so far.

However, in May the National Interagency Fire Center warned that all of that rain had led to explosive growth in native grasses, which during the hot summer months will dry out and “cure,” posing a significant fire hazard later in the year.

A Forest Service survey published in February also found that since 2010 “over 147 million trees died across 9.7 million acres of federal, state, local and private land” due to drought, leaving dead, dried out trunks that may also proliferate fires throughout California.