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Crews able to slow spread of Morgan Fire on Mount Diablo

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Updated: 9/10/2013 8:21 am
CLAYTON, Calif. -- Hundreds of firefighters remained busy on the eastern side of Mount Diablo Monday night as crews began to make progress in the battle to contain a large blaze that broke out in the East Bay Sunday afternoon.

Cal Fire said that the Morgan Fire remained at 20 percent containment after growing to more than 3,700 acres.

Shortly after 10 p.m., Dennis Rein of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District told KTVU that as winds picked up, so did fire activity on the northeast side of Mount Diablo. Crews were reporting numerous small spot fires and were doing their best to keep them from growing.

Three injuries have been reported including a firefighter treated on Monday for heat exhaustion. About 100 structures are currently threatened.

The evacuation orders currently stand for Curry Lane, Curry Canyon, Oak Hill Lane, Russellman Park Road Trail, Ride Road, Upper Trail Road, East Trail Road And Lower Trail Road.

Air support has been vital in the fight to control the Morgan Fire. Cal Fire brought in a massive DC-10 that dropped thousands of gallons of retardant on the most intense flames.

"We pretty much kept it in the box," said Cal Fire engineer Casey Urrutia. "Air support helped box it in."

Heavy equipment including D-5 and D-6 bulldozers weighing about 30,000 pounds aided in the ground assault, climbing the steep flanks of Mount Diablo to cut critical fire lines.

At times, the flames appeared to be dangerously close to the operators.

"One of the big issues now is access," said Rein. "This part that we're on right now has Summit Road against it, so we're trying to hold it at Summit Road. That’s a priority; keep it on the east side of Summit Road."

On Monday night the fire lines KTVU observed appeared to hold. The fire burned to the edge of the fire line and stopped. Inmates from California prison walked the fire lines to attack the flames on foot, using hand tools to clear brush and other flammable material.

"This is the most wind we’ve had all day, so anything that’s still burning is throwing embers," Urrutia told KTVU Monday evening. "The last thing we want is a spot across the line."

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at the Clayton community library. It will be open for at least two more days.

Meanwhile, a smoke advisory issued because of the fire prompted schools and other community services in the area to keep activities indoors.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory Monday morning because of the blaze. The smoke may affect residents in parts of Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara counties, according to the air district.
Danville city officials announced Monday that outdoor classes and sporting activities would be canceled because of smoky conditions.

Baseball, tennis, softball and bocce ball adult and children's leagues were notified about cancellations, affecting some activities planned for Monday afternoon.

Teen Centers throughout Danville will remain open, however all activities will be kept inside.

City officials encouraged all residents to limit time spent outside as the fire continues to burn.

The Dublin Unified School District notified parents today that because of the polluted air from the wildfire, district schools, including Dublin High School, are instituting "rainy day" procedures.

That means that students will not go outside for recess, physical education classes or lunchtime, school officials posted on the district's Facebook page Monday afternoon.

The air district has advised all residents in smoky areas to stay inside, close windows and doors and set air-conditioning units and ventilation systems to re-circulate indoor air.

More information about air quality is available at www.baaqmd.gov.

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