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July 2, 2007

Dish recreation area to remain closed

The Dish recreation area will remain closed through at least July 8 because of extremely high fire danger following the foothills blaze that scorched about 200 acres last week, Stanford University officials said Monday.

"We remain very concerned about the possibility of another fire, especially given continued high temperatures and low humidity," said Vice President for Public Affairs David Demarest. "We will use this time to assess what steps can be taken to further decrease fire danger in the area."

Last week's fire consumed roughly 200 acres in the foothills near Junipero Serra Boulevard. No one was injured, and no homes or university structures were damaged in the fire, which was contained by 9 p.m. June 25. The Palo Alto Fire Department announced June 26 that its preliminary investigation showed "human activity" was the likely cause of the brushfire.

University officials said safety was the top priority as they assessed the situation.

"We were very fortunate last week," Demarest said. "The quick and focused response of local and regional fire agencies was critical in containing the fire, and wind conditions cooperated with firefighters. But we need to take some time to make sure that we do as much as we can to ensure the safety of homeowners in the Dish area as well as the hikers and joggers who use the Dish paths for recreation."

The university will continue to work with local fire and law enforcement officials, as well as residents of the surrounding community, to consider ways to lessen the fire danger and improve conditions for fighting a fire should another blaze break out. Among the alternatives being pursued will be the enhancement and widening of firebreaks. Other improvements also will be considered.

Thousands of visitors use the four miles of jogging and hiking paths in the Dish area every month, making it one of the most popular recreational areas on the peninsula.

"The Dish is a magnificent recreational resource for the people of the peninsula," Demarest said. "We want to make sure that, when it reopens, we've done all we reasonably can to make it safe for the people who live nearby and the people who use the hiking paths."

Details about the timeframe for reopening the Dish area will be available on the university's web site ( as more information becomes available. The public can also call the "Foothills Hotline" at (650) 926-0275 for status updates.



John Sanford, News Service: (650) 736-2151,

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