CONCORD -- Three apartment complexes were quickly evacuated after a wind-swept brush fire blazed through 3 acres of Newhall Community Park on Saturday. No one was injured.
Shortly after 3 p.m., the Contra Costa Fire District received calls about heavy smoke near Melody and Marclair drives.
The fire started in a creek bed and spread, said Battalion Chief Terry Stewart. Heavy winds fueled the blaze, and Concord police worked quickly to evacuate the complexes, each with 10 to 15 units per building, immediately adjacent to the park.
The Red Cross was also called to the scene in case any residents were displaced, which did not end up being the case, Stewart said.
It was a frantic 40 minutes or so for residents.
Nick Burnett said he was watching a movie in his apartment, his mother asleep in another room, when he began to smell smoke in the air. Thinking it was an electrical fire, Burnett checked his air conditioning, before opening his curtains and seeing only dark smoke.
"I couldn't see from you to me," he said. "The smoke was so thick, my lungs hurt and my eyes were burning."
Burnett said at one point, things became slightly chaotic as residents tried to get out of the area quickly, but most stayed nearby to watch crews work.
"You got to hand it to (fire crews); they worked quickly," one woman said.
Firefighters contained the fire by about 3:40 p.m. Some crews remained on scene to check for hot spots and to make sure air quality was acceptable enough for families to return home.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.