Santa Cruz Mountain Wildfire Rages

Hundreds of homes threatened

By Jessica Greene
|  Friday, Aug 14, 2009  |  Updated 5:51 AM PDT
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Aerial Attack Underway in Santa Cruz Mountains

NBCBayArea.com

The raging fire started Wednesday around 7 p.m.

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Firefighters are battling a fast-moving brush fire burning out of control in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of the Bay Area that has consumed nearly 2,800 acres -- about 3.6 square miles -- and has forced evacuation orders for 2,200 people from there home. Residents from another 500 homes have voluntarily left already.

By mid-morning Cal Fire ordered the evacuation of the entire town of Bonny Doon.  Crews said the wind conditions forced them to make the call.  Bonny Doon has about 2,000 residents.

The fire in an area at 2,500 ft. elevation -- too high to benefit from any fog bank that might come to the area, according to forecasters.

As of 10 a.m. Thursday, crews had zero containment.  About 750 firefighters are battling the blaze with many more headed to the scene.  Cal Fire has a weather link with all kinds of interactive information.

The fire broke out at about 7 p.m. Wednesday in the mountains near the town of Bonny Doon, in an unincorporated part of Santa Cruz County and quickly spread, Cal Fire said.

The area burning is about 9 miles north of Santa Cruz in heavily wooded, rugged terrain. There aren't very many homes in the area but the dry vegetation and brush are giving the flames plenty of fuel to spread.\

Residents are reporting there is a lot of ash and smoke in the Boulder Creek-Davenport area.

Ash has also been seen falling in the Monterey area.

Classic cars featured at Auto Week in Monterey and Carmel are also being covered in ash from the fire.

Bob Burladge, communications director for Big Creek Lumber, told KSBW in Salinas that some of the area affected by the fire is on Big Creek Lumber property.

Employees at Big Creek Lumber company said they are helping Cal Fire crews reach access roads in the area.

Cal Fire has dubbed the blaze the Lockheed Fire because of its proximity to the Lockheed Martin Space Systems test facility. Crews are using the Lockheed campus as one of the command centers.

Firefighters from around the Bay Area including Alameda, Marin and Vacaville. A team from the state Office of Emergency Services is also assisting. The strike teams are specially trained in battling fires in rugged terrain. Crews from as far south as Santa Barbara and San Diego are also expected to join the fight.

An evacuation center has been set up at Pacific Elementary School in the community of Davenport, and the American Red Cross has established a shelter at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz. Officials are using the fairgrounds for livestock evacuated from the threatened and burned areas.

In June 2008, the Martin Fire burned more than 600 acres and  forced the evacuation of 1,500 Bonny Doon residents.

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