An estimated 20 to 30 campers were evacuated and Lake Chabot Regional Park was closed for three hours until 7 p.m. Monday while crews put out a three-acre brush fire, said Lt. Jon King of the East Bay Regional Park District police.
A huge plume of smoke was visible from nearby Interstate Highway 580 as fire crews attacked the fire at first by air and then on foot.
The fire was on steep terrain in the vicinity of the Lost Ridge group camp north of the Columbine Trail, which hugs the northern perimeter of the lake, King said. The camp is accessible through Marciel Road, which begins on the Oakland side of the lake and continues east toward the Castro Valley side.
"At this time of year when we have a lot of dry fuel we wanted to take precautions," King said, explaining the decision to evacuate campers. "It could very well have run up the hill [toward the camp]."
A Cal Fire helicopter dropped water, then two air tankers dropped fire retardant, opening the way for smaller engines and ground crews to get close to the fire and finish on foot in rugged terrain, King said.
A reader reported on Castro Valley Patch's Facebook page that the fire cut short his mountain bike ride on Brandon Trail at Marceil Road. "I thought I'd better track down a ranger/police before going any further...The ranger said that the fire was down deep in a canyon," he said.
Fire crews from Alameda County, Oakland, East Bay Regional Park District, Camp Parks and Cal Fire responded, King said.
"We'll have crews on it all night," King said. Although the park has reopened, he discouraged sightseers from trying to hike in for a look. "At this point in time, it's not safe for people to be up there and there's really nothing to see," he said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, King said.