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Officials say progress on Deer Zone fires ‘better than other areas’

Firefighters in east central Contra Costa County hope a combination of the right kind of winds and increasing humidity will help with efforts to contain a series of wildland fires on Mount Diablo southwest of Brentwood.

Erica Bain, a spokeswoman for Cal Fire, said there was “minimal fire activity” overnight into Wednesday associated with the four blazes that make up the Deer Zone fires, which as of Tuesday had burned almost 1,500 acres on the northeast face of Mount Diablo.

Bain said:

“They’re actually looking pretty good out there, better than other areas.”

Specific information about the progress in fighting the Deer Zone fires, including the acreage and level of containment, was not readily available Wednesday morning, Bain said.

Cal Fire is grouping the Deer Zone fires are part of a larger cluster of fires Cal Fire calls the “SCU Lightning Complex,” which also includes six fires burning in the “Calaveras Zone” in Alameda, Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties east of Fremont and San Jose; and the “Canyon Zone,” four separate fires in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

As of Wednesday morning, the 20 separate fires in the SCU Lightning Complex had burned more than 85,000 acres, with 5 percent containment. And in contrast to the Deer Zone fires, the situation in other areas was getting worse.

Much of the territory burning has not experienced large fires in recent years, Cal Fire said, and accumulated fuels have exacerbated a situation already made challenging by hard-to-access terrain, high temperatures and low humidity.

Almost 600 firefighters were working on the SCU Lightning Complex fires as of early Wednesday morning, Cal Fire said.

The Deer Zone fires in Contra Costa started in the early morning hours Sunday, ignited during the rash of dry-lightning strikes that hit the region.

After a “change in behavior” of these blazes on Mount Diablo at about 9:15 p.m. Sunday, mandatory evacuations were called affecting residents along Marsh Creek Road from Morgan Territory Road to the Round Valley Regional Preserve parking lot (six miles) between Brentwood and Clayton, and on the length of Morgan Territory Road from Marsh Creek Road south to the Alameda County line.

Among these homes are those in the Clayton Palms mobile home community off of Marsh Creek Road about 3 miles southwest of Brentwood.

Those evacuations remain in effect Wednesday morning, Bain said, but will be re-evaluated later in the day, especially if the expected improvements in fire conditions come to pass.

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