High winds fueled a grass fire burning along Interstate 205 near the on-ramp at Naglee Road, one of several fires in the Tracy area on Friday.
That fire began around 12:15 p.m., with flames stoked by the wind sending thick clouds of smoke across the freeway and snarling traffic in both directions. South San Joaquin County Fire Authority firefighters fought the fire and later got help from water trucks sent by Caltrans to get it under control.
At 3:30 p.m., another fire was reported along Interstate 580 near the Tracy Hills community, and crews were sent to fight that fire. It eventually grew to 400 acres and four alarms and threatened several buildings, but no buildings were damaged.
Shortly after that, several cars caught fire off South Banta Road near 11th Street; a fire was reported in the Paradise Cut area; and a house had significant exterior damage from a fire at the San Joaquin River Club.
Just before 5 p.m., firefighters were sent to the West Valley Mall area in response to reports that flames were approaching backyards off Clover and Corral Hollow roads. That fire began small, about the size of a manhole cover, and quickly spread through dry fields just north of Interstate 205.
The two-alarm fire burned through a field bordering homes off Clover Road and up the Interstate 205 embankment. No homes were damaged.
Winds were in the 20-30 mph range from the west and south throughout Friday afternoon.
The National Weather Service in Sacramento has issued a red flag warning — indicating increased fire danger — through 8 p.m. Monday for the southern Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys into the Delta, including Tracy.
Winds on Monday are expected to be north to northwesterly from 15 to 20 mph, gusting to 30 mph with low humidity of 10-15%. Under those conditions, grass fires start more easily and can spread more quickly.