Grass Fire Forces Evacuations

A fast-moving grass fire (search) destroyed a home, damaged eight others and forced some evacuations before it was brought under control, officials said Saturday. Two firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

The wind-driven blaze started Friday afternoon about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco and grew to about 250 acres, briefly threatening a high school and a hospital before being brought under control.

Officials ordered the evacuation of 20 people who lived nearby, and a voluntary evacuation was in effect in surrounding neighborhoods. More than 200 people streamed into an evacuation center at Martinez City Hall, where Red Cross volunteers provided meals.

The fire was battled by 200 firefighters and 50 trucks. Mop-up operations continued Saturday.

In addition to the two injured firefighters, who were released from the hospital Saturday, several residents complained of minor smoke inhalation.

The cause remains under investigation.

Along the eastern Sierra Nevada (search), meanwhile, high winds hampered firefighters Saturday in their battle against a 700-acre wildfire that threatened a Marine housing facility.

Fire information officer Franklin Pemberton said about 250 firefighters built a containment line around some of the blaze but he was unsure how much of it was surrounded.

Officials were concerned that down-canyon gusts of up to 40 mph could push the blaze toward the housing unit north of Coleville, about 80 miles south of Reno, Nev. The facility, about two miles from the fire, is used by the nearby U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (search).

Firefighters also were trying to keep the fire out of the Slinkard Creek watershed, which provides habitat for the Lahontan cutthroat trout, a threatened species, Pemberton said.

The fire and two smaller blazes that were fully contained Saturday had been sparked by lightning Thursday or Friday.