San Jose Brush Fire Burns Near Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

A 3-alarm brush burning in San Jose Monday morning had rangers at a local zoo on high alert.

The fire was burning at Kelley Park, behind Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, in the vicinity of Phelan Avenue and Senter Road, south of downtown, authorities said. Police estimate between 1 and 2 acres of brush was consumed by the flames.

Initials reports stated park goers were being evacuated from the zoo. "There is no danger at Happy Hollow right now," zoo spokesperson Vanessa Rogier said. "The zookeepers and staff are on alert in terms of making sure all the guests are safe and all the animals are safe."

The fire department received a report about the fire at 10:42 a.m., San Jose Fire Department spokesperson Cleo Doss said. He said the fire was spreading at a "slow to moderate" rate. The fire was "mostly" contained about 12:15 p.m.

Rogier said smoke from the fire wasn't affecting Happy Hollow customers or animals. The zoo is less than a mile from the scene of the fire, where crews remained fighting hot spots for hours.

Doss said the blaze started when a contractor was dumping bark and the truck caught fire.

More than 50 firefighters helped battle the blaze.

At the time of the fire, NBC Bay Area meteorologist Christina Loren said sustained winds were blowing to the west at about 11 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.

San Jose Fire Captain Reggie Williams said the weather at the time of the fire actually worked in firefighters’ favor.

“It is very cool, about 75 degrees,” Williams said. “The wind is very low and we’ve had a lot of humidity over the last few days.”

But humidity can only do so much. The San Jose Fire Department credits park officials for helping to reduce the risk by cutting back the brush.

“We don’t have three or 4 foot weeds. They’re inches,” Williams said. “That helped prevent the spread of this fire.”

Had the flames moved faster, Williams estimates the flames could have consumed upwards of 30 acres. 

No injuries were reported.

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