Within minutes: Crews Fire destroys home as blaze rips through 5,400 acres

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Roberto Talamantes of Gilroy lives on Crews Road and witnessed the fire as it blazed through acres of land just across the street from his home. (Juan Reyes)

Roberto Talamantes was hanging out Sunday afternoon inside his home on Crews Road when all of a sudden his sister came bursting in, yelling that there was a fire just down the way.

The 17-year-old Gilroy resident ran across the street to go check on his neighbor’s house, who was out of town on vacation, making sure the flames wouldn’t hit any part of the property.

“We looked on the roof and it was on fire,” Talamantes said. “We just ran up there and we freakin’ started dumping buckets of water on it.” 

Meanwhile, he saw a woman drive up the hill in a water tanker truck to spray down the incoming flames.

“Then it just came over here,” Talamantes said as he stood in front of a burnt piece of land alongside Crews Road. “It was going crazy.”

All of the destruction happened within a matter of minutes. Talamantes said it started with just a little bit of smoke but then the flames blazed through more than 2,000 acres.

Talamantes said he thought the fire was heading toward his house at Van Dyke Organics, which farms hundreds of apricot trees. But his brother had the thought of mind to hop the fence and help put out the flames. 

“All of a sudden I just saw my brother running and he jumped the fence, crossing the street to the other side,” he said. 

As of July 6, CalFire reported that 5,400 acres of vegetation had burned and 20 percent of the fire was contained. 

CalFire stated that “firefighters worked through the evening strengthening control lines and mopping up. The fire had little forward progress last night however, gusty winds this afternoon will create the potential for significant runs. Firefighters will remain vigilant throughout the day to maintain control lines and control spotting.”

CalFire said that Cañada Road is closed from Highway 152 to Gilroy Hot Springs. The evacuation routes go from Highway 152 north to Gilroy Hot Springs and southeast to Prunedale Avenue. Evacuation centers include Gilroy Senior Center at 7371 Hanna St. 

Smoke and flames can be still be seen as several acres of land continue to burn in Gilroy on Monday, July 6. (Juan Reyes)

Crystal Newton, an employee at a fruit stand by B&T Farms, said the fire has made people stop at the tiny shop, which is located on Highway 152 just passing San Felipe Road. 

Newton said as of Monday afternoon she wasn’t notified by CalFire or anybody else to evacuate. She said a search and rescue van came by to pick up some cattle that was on the property where the fruit stand sits. 

Newton said she stood outside in the morning to watch the CalFire airplanes and helicopters in action as they tried to contain as much of the fire as possible.

Newton was at the main barn located on Monterey Road when the fire broke out and they watched it burn the hillside. She mentioned that they noticed something behind the green trees was burning but they thought it was a farmer burning something.

“Within 20 minutes we saw the whole hill take off,” she said. “We were like, ‘Oh my god, it’s gonna be huge.’ Then we saw the firefighters, the fire trucks and the airplanes coming out. It was pretty crazy.”

Christmas Hill Park, which is being used as a staging area for firefighting equipment and personnel, is currently closed to the public. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic is not allowed on Miller Avenue south of Uvas Parkway, although pedestrian access to the levee is still allowed.

The Park Fire—on the east side of Anderson Reservoir in Morgan Hill—burned 343 acres of vegetation by July 5. That fire started about 11pm July 4, and was fully contained by July 6, CalFire officials said.

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