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Fires in Mt. Diablo area as temperatures hit near-record highs

'Cooler' today in Pleasanton, Tri-Valley with a high of only 100 degrees by mid-day

Hundreds of firefighters battled a 375-acre wildfire charring ground near Mount Diablo State Park in a rural, unincorporated area of Contra Costa County late yesterday as an excessive heat wave brought temperatures to a near-record high of 106 degrees in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley.

The record for Aug. 24 was set in 1932 when temperatures here reached 107 degrees. The record for this date--Aug. 25--was set more recently with 104 degrees recorded on Aug. 25, 1988.

The National Weather Service is predicting a slight cooling off today with highs near 100 degrees as public schools re-open after a summer break.

For those tired of the brief but extraordinarily hot late August heat, the Weather Services suggests that everyone "think Saturday." That's when temperatures should drop by nearly 30 degrees with highs of 71 degrees forecast for both Saturday and Sunday. Warmer days with temperatures in the 80s come again next week.

In the Mt. Diablo area, firefighters responded to the grassfire along Morgan Territory Road in an area northeast of Mount Diablo at 4 p.m. As of midnight, the fire was about 50 percent contained, Cal Fire said.

Low winds were helping to keep the fire from spreading rapidly, with flames leaping across grass and oak woodland at a moderate rate, according to Cal Fire.

The agency was fighting the fire with at least 23 fire engines and three bulldozers. Units deployed overhead -- including one air attack, six air tankers and 3 helicopters -- have been released overnight due to darkness, but are expected to return at dawn this morning, Cal Fire said.

About 200 firefighters from Cal Fire, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and San Ramon fire were responding. One firefighter was injured, spraining an ankle while battling the blaze.

A number of other agencies are assisting in the operations, including the California Highway Patrol and the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office, with a total of 250 personnel on the scene.

Several structures on Curry Canyon Road were considered threatened by flames, according to Cal Fire, but no structures had burned as of midnight. No evacuation orders had been issued at that time.

Thick gray smoke was visible throughout the San Ramon Valley and eastern Alameda County.

Temperatures of 100 degrees and higher and single-digit daytime humidity levels worked against firefighting efforts, according to Cal Fire, which did not have an estimate on when the fire would be fully contained.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Bay City News contributed to this story.

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