Dozens of homeowners in Belmont were evacuated Monday by a fast-moving vegetations fire.
Flames broke out around 4 p.m. near Alhambra Drive, which backs up to an open space near San Juan Canyon.
Firefighters stood on rooftops, while crews attacked the flames and Belmont police went door to door to 40 homes telling residents to evacuate.
“I saw the smoke, I thought it was the regular stuff,” said resident Karlo Arriola.
Officers tied caution tape to each home they alerted, as word of the fire spread.
“Started seeing flames, helicopters, fire trucks -- hectic,” said resident Bill Pastorelli
People living along the narrow winding roads packed up and evacuated. There were traffic jams as people drove out of the neighborhood, and police helped direct them out.
San Mateo Consolidated Fire says it called in help from outside agencies for an aggressive attack to prevent the fire from taking off and destroying homes.
“Helicopter did significant drops to slow it down, crews went directly aggressive which I think saved all the homes,” said firefighter Joe Novelli.
The flames burned a retaining wall at one home and a fence at another. Evacuated residents were allowed to return home by 9 p.m.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.