Brush fire briefly forces evacuations around Sign Hill in South San Francisco

A brush fire erupted at South San Francisco's Sign Hill on Friday afternoon.
(South San Francisco Police Department)

A brush fire that erupted Friday afternoon on Sign Hill in South San Francisco, prompting evacuation orders for the surrounding area, was contained about two hours later, but officials warned it was too early for residents to return to their homes.

The South San Francisco Fire Department in San Mateo County called it a “four-alarm fire,” and video of the blaze posted shortly before 1 p.m. showed massive plumes of billowing smoke and orange flames, with tightly packed houses not far away.

Within a half-hour, evacuations were ordered at Carnelian Road, Sonja Road, Mountain Road, Ridgeview Court and Viewmont Terrace — the area just outside Sign Hill Park where the fire appears to have started.


The fire could be seen burning near the “South San Francisco the Industrial City” sign that adorns the hillside. The blaze was also visible from San Francisco International Airport.

Firefighting planes swooped low to drop pink retardant on the brush fire, and officials warned that drones were interfering with some of the aerial efforts.

“Safety is our No.1 priority. Please help us keep everyone safe by keeping your drones away from this incident,” Fire Chief Jess Magallanes said in a message shared on Twitter.

The blaze broke out amid a red flag warning for a wide swath of Northern California, including the Bay Area. Extremely dry, gusty winds and excessive heat were combining for critical fire conditions, the National Weather Service said.

The warning was extended through Saturday morning and included the North Bay Mountains and East Bay Hills.