The sound of helicopters and the smell of smoke were in the air as Cal Fire, Coastside Fire Protection District and San Mateo County fire officials worked to put out a small blaze on the top of Sweeney Ridge behind Shelldance Orchid Garden in Pacifica Tuesday evening.
Felicia Hirsch said on Pacifica Patch's Facebook page that she called the fire department when she noticed a fire had started during their baseball game. Maria Pia smelled smoke up on Skyline and Loring Slivinski, who lives in Vallemar, said "I am hearing and seeing lots of helicopters flying around dangling something underneath them."
Kenn Lipke snapped some photos of the Cal Fire helicopter dropping water on the fire. And Ilanit Manor was walking her dog at Sharp Park Beach and took a photo of a helicopter grabbing water from the pond in the golf course.
The fire started around 7 p.m. said Cal Fire information officer Daniel Berlant.
"It was a wildfire about a quarter acre, not too large, and was under control pretty quickly," he said. "However, a fire like this so early in the season is a reminder that we are currently experiencing low cumulative rainfall, low humidity, dry fuel moisture levels and increased fire activity."
Open burns are currently banned in a number of Bay Area counties to limit the risk as fire season gets underway, Berlant said.
The burn ban is effective in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, San Benito, Monterey and western San Joaquin counties, according to Division Chief Rich Sampson.
"Experience has shown that open burning suspensions effectively aid in preventing fire escapes and significantly reduce the risk of and occurrence of large fires," Sampson said in a statement.
Burns can still take place for agriculture, land management and fire training, but only with a Cal Fire permit. Campfires are still allowed in designated campgrounds and on private property.
For more information on how to prepare for and prevent wildfires, go to www.readyforwildfire.org.
Additional reporting by Bay City New Service.
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