A science project gone awry ended with 10 to 15 scorched acres of grass and brush in the Sycamore Valley Open Space and Danville near Magee Ranch neighborhood on Sunday.
The fire started around 5:45 p.m., after a juvenile growing tomatoes for a science project used either a blowtorch or a smoke bomb to prevent the squirrels from eating his project, said East Bay Regional Parks police Lt. Dave Dubowy.
A helicopter from East Bay Regional Parks responded within seven minutes from Hayward and assessed the fire, for which the San Ramon Valley Fire District called a second alarm to have enough firefighters to protect structures, said Battalion Chief Mike Brown.
About 50 firefighters from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the San Ramon fire district and the East Bay Regional Parks Fire Department responded, with four tanker airplanes, two helicopters and one command plane.
Brown and other supervisors managed the response from Leafield Circle and Brightwood Circle, off of Magee Ranch Road, south of Blackhawk Road.
No structures were damaged. The fire was contained a little over an hour later.
Police closed the road into the neighborhood as residents emerged from their homes to watch the aircraft and smoke, which wafted near the summit of Mt. Diablo and was visible from Interstate 680 in Walnut Creek.
For photos of the fire submitted by a reader, click on “Your Pics” and “Breaking News” on the Contra Costa Times homepage.