Roaring flames rip through Hayward neighborhood

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

HAYWARD, Calif.Hayward fire investigators are probing the cause of a vegetation fire that destroyed multiple cars and threatened nearby homes.

The fire broke out Thursday afternoon in the Jackson Triangle neighborhood, east of Highway 92 and Interstate 880.

Aerial footage from above the scene showed flames shooting up through clusters of eucalyptus trees behind a house on Lucien Way around 11:30 a.m.

“It was really, really scary,” said Lucy Niuatoa, whose backyard was adjacent to her neighbor’s trees that caught on fire.

“I jumped out, got my family out, and then I don’t know what came over me, but basically I thought, maybe I can slow down the fire,” Niuatoa said.


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Niuatoa said she got her elderly parents out of the house and then came back to use her garden hose to try and put water on her shed and fence to slow the flames.

“I grabbed the hoses, I told my son to grab a hose and started watering down the grass,” she recalled.

Hayward fire crews arrived and were able to keep the fire from spreading to surrounding structures, but four vehicles parked in the backyard of the home on Lucien Way were destroyed.

Two residents inside the home were able to get out. No injuries were reported.

A big concern for firefighters was the strong wind that blew embers into four other places, causing spot fires in the neighborhood.

One ember blew across the railroad tracks, sparking a small spot fire blocks away.

“When you get a tree that’s that high, especially eucalyptus trees, they do put out a lot of embers, they burn pretty hot,” Hayward Fire Captain Don Nichelson said.

Fire investigators said there weren’t any power lines nearby. They said it appears the fire started with the trees and spread to multiple cars.

“Sounded like the tree is what caught on fire first, but there was some possible maintenance on the cars in the past few days, so that might have played a factor,” said Nichelson.

Niuatoa said she is grateful to strangers who pitched in to help save her property.

“I’m very thankful to the two men that were working nearby and came in and helped us out, and really moved quickly to put more hoses and get more water,” Niuatoa said.”Strangers came in and that was a blessing, so I’m very thankful.”

Investigators said there were several people near the trees just before the fire started. It appears they might have been doing yard or maintenance work.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.