Officials said two fires broke out in separate homes in Oakley on Saturday – one after an explosion, and another after flames spread from a barbecue grill.
Gil Guerrero, battalion chief of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, said a total of eight people were displaced by the nearly 14-hour fire at the opposite end of the city.
Guerrero said the first fire started around 5:24 a.m. Saturday, when a man said he heard a pop or explosion outside his home at 5022 Sandmound Blvd. The explosion left the side of the house in flames, and by the time firefighters were able to put out the fire, much of the house was damaged.
Guerrero said the cause of the fire was unclear, although investigators did not suspect a conspiracy. The man, his daughter and his adult son planned to live with family members nearby.
Another fire broke out across the city on Saturday evening when flames from a barbecue grill went out of control, badly damaging one house, igniting another and intimidating two others.
Guerrero said the fire was reported at 6:58 p.m. at 4865 Claret Court, and nine minutes later firefighters arrived, seeing flames from nearby vegetation, some trees and a fence.
Guerrero said firefighters had the fire under control by 7:18 p.m., but the flames had already caused significant damage to the house, as well as the canopy of a nearby house. A woman was taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution due to difficulty in breathing.
A family of five living in the fire-ravaged house planned to stay with relatives nearby. Guerrero said none of the families affected by the two fires on Saturday requested help from the American Red Cross.
Investigators are not yet sure how the flames from the barbecue grill got out of control, or whether the barbecue grill was abandoned.
Still, Guerrero said residents planning any barbecue over the holiday weekend should do so safely given the region’s dry conditions and wind forecast.
“Make sure your barbecue is in good working order and that you always have it on after you start it,” Guerrero said. “That’s the main thing, to really pay attention to when you’re cooking outside.”