Santa Teresa Park Fire, October 1, 2001


On October 1, 2001, late in the afternoon, a fire started in Santa Teresa Park in the hills overlooking Bernal Intermediate School. The fire started around 5:40 pm near the Joice Trail, just above the Joice-Bernal Rancho. The flames spread east across the hills. In some cases, they came down to the edge of Coyote-Alamitos Canal, just above the Joice-Bernal Rancho.The canal and the levee must have acted as an effective firebreak, since the fire did not jump across it.  The weather was hot and dry, but fortunately the winds were calm. An army of firefighters from different organizations spread across the hills and below it. Firefighters and helicopters fought the fire, preventing it from spreading to nearby homes or historical buildings. The helicopters scooped water from the pond at the Santa Teresa Golf Course. The helicopters had to stop near dusk, probably because of the danger of hitting the powerlines on the hills. The fire burned 64 acres of grass and brush. The cause of the fire was unknown at the time of this writing, but some kids were spotted running from the origin of the fire. 

Coincidentally, a smaller fire started earlier the same day in Almaden Quicksilver County Park and burned about 30 acres. That fire, however, was accidentally started by park crews, from sparks created by grinding down screws on park signs.

Click on the thumbnails below for a larger picture, then hit the "back" button on your browser to return. These pictures below were taken from the area around Bernal School. 

This is a view of the fire from the intersection of Curie and San Ignacio. Police restricted vehicular access past Bernal School. The van on the left is the firefighting command center. The empty lot is part of Santa Teresa Park, next to the Pyzak property. The house on the left is the historic Pedro Bernal House, now a park ranger residence.

This is a view of the fire line looking straight up the hill on the ridgeline above Heaton Moor.

This fire line is above Santa Teresa Springs and the Joice Bernal Ranch. Fire trucks can be seen on the trail above the fire. 

Looking from Bernal School, the scars of an older fire still remain on the hillside below the fire. 

Trees are beginning to burn, causing a flare-up.

Emergency and fire-fighting vehicles crowded San Ignacio and Heaton Moor.

The Channel 11/36 news crew came to cover the fire.

By around 7:30, the fire seemed under control. These are some of the firetrucks lined up by Bernal School. By 8:30 pm, the fire was out.

The Aftermath, 10/3/01:

This a view of the hills above the corner at Curie and San Ignacio.

This is the hill behind the Pedro Bernal House, across from Bernal School.

This is the hill above the Pyzak Ranch from San Ignacio. 

These are the hills above the intersection of Endmoor and San Ignacio. The burned area near the road was from a fire that occurred a few weeks prior to the October 1 fire.

These are the hills above Santa Teresa Springs and the Joice-Bernal Rancho from Manila Drive. The fire damaged most of the hillside. This is near the origin of the fire.

This is where the fire apparently started - next to the Joice Trail above the Joice-Bernal Rancho. The fire appears to have fanned out from here as the winds blew the flames east down the hills.

These are the hills immediately east of the Joice Trail. The old barbed wire fence, no longer needed since all this land is now parkland, was burned. Tire tracks from the fire vehicles can be seen.

Farther to the east, the flames reached down the hill and partially burned the trees on the hillside.

The flames dropped down the hill heading towards Santa Teresa Springs.

On the lower left is the ramp to Santa Teresa Springs. The flames stopped just above the springs.

In places the fire came down to the Coyote-Alamitos Canal. The concrete-lined canal formed an effective firebreak. 

Return to the Friends of Santa Teresa Park Home Page


Created 10/7/2001 by Ronald Horii, secretary of the Friends of Santa Teresa Park