Update, 2:20 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22: Cal Fire says the Tesla Fire has burned 2,700 acres -- virtually of that area in the first few hours of the blaze on Wednesday afternoon and evening -- and is now 85 percent contained. Only a skeleton crew is staffing the blaze at this point: five fire engines and a total of 23 personnel.
Update, 7:45 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 20: Cal Fire reports that winds in the hills east of Livermore died down overnight, allowing crews to expand containment of the Tesla Fire to 25 percent. The agency's acreage estimate for the blaze will be updated later Thursday morning.
Original post (10 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19): Cal Fire says a grass fire that started Wednesday afternoon in the steep, windy hills east of Livermore has spread to 2,500 acres and is just 5 percent contained.
Cal Fire spokeswoman Pam Temmermand said the blaze, dubbed the Tesla Fire, is burning on both sides of Corral Hollow Road about a dozen miles east of Livermore and about 10 miles southeast of Tracy. The area is about 8 miles south of Altamont Pass, and the blaze did not appear to threaten the main travel corridors between the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area.
The fire was reported just before 3 p.m. and apparently began just west of the summit of Tesla Road, near the point where it crosses the last spur of hills in the area and descends into Corral Hollow. The fire, driven by winds blowing a steady 25 mph and gusting to 35 mph through most of the afternoon and evening, raced east through dry grass and across a portion of the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area, part of the state park system.
Temmermand said the blaze prompted the evacuation of dirt bikers and four-wheelers using the park, and it burned a single unoccupied house there. She said no other structures were threatened as of 9 p.m. Wednesday night and no other evacuations are in force.
Air tankers, including a DC-10 jumbo jet, were called in Wednesday afternoon to try to slow the progress of the fire. Temmermand said tankers and helicopters would be in the air again Thursday morning to reinforce efforts by 23 Cal Fire engines and two hand crews -- maybe 120 firefighters in all -- backed by four bulldozers.
Tesla Road and the Carnegie vehicular park commemorate part of the area's industrial past. Tesla was a late 19th century coal-mining community in Corral Hollow, and Carnegie was a nearby town that grew up at the turn of the 20th century to manufacture fire brick and terracotta tile made from nearby clay deposits. The settlements were named after Nikola Tesla, the physicist, inventor and electrical pioneer, and Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate and philanthropist.