Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Fires Break Out In California: Homes Evacuated In Santa Cruz Mountains

5 firefighters hurt, homes evacuated as fire rages in Santa Cruz Mountains

As if last week’s Wine Country infernos weren’t enough, a new wildfire broke out Monday night in the Santa Cruz Mountains and quickly spread through dry brush and thick forest, igniting buildings and prompting numerous evacuations around Boulder Creek, fire officials said Tuesday.
Five firefighters were injured and at least four structures were destroyed by daylight Tuesday after a building fire ignited the bone dry hills and sent flames sweeping through trees. 
Another brush fire near Wolfback Ridge above Marin City, broke out Tuesday afternoon, shutting down the southbound lanes of Highway 101 before firefighters could gain control, further frazzling nerves in the Bay Area.
Some 250 firefighters battled the flames in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which broke out about 10:30 p.m. Monday, but the effort to prevent another disaster was hampered by steep, sometimes inaccessible terrain, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire.
The fire, dubbed the Bear Fire because it started on Bear Creek Road, sparked up just as thousands of firefighters were getting a handle on blazes burning in the North Bay and throughout Northern California that destroyed thousands of homes and killed 41 people, including a volunteer firefighter, 38-year-old Garrett Paiz of Missouri, who crashed a water truck near a fire line in Napa County on Monday.
The disaster up north was so fresh that many locals in the Santa Cruz Mountains had a hard time believing their own community could now be burning.
“I thought it was a joke at first,” said Hauslley Silva, 39, who, with his two children, had to flee along with residents of about 150 other homes in the Las Cumbres Community, which was being threatened by the advancing flames.
Silva got an evacuation call at 11:45 p.m. on Monday and said he was tempted to ignore it and go to bed, but remembered the horror stories from North Bay survivors who described being woken up by smoke and flames at their doorsteps.
“We’re all on alert,” he said as he and his kids stood outside the evacuation center at the Lakeside Elementary School in Los Gatos. 
Four structures were destroyed by the fire, which had consumed 200 acres in the steep forested mountains southwest of San Jose by Tuesday afternoon. It was 5 percent contained, assistant Cal Fire Chief Rob Sherman said during a news conference near the fire.
Five firefighters were injured and three were hospitalized, including a member of an inmate crew who suffered smoke inhalation, a firefighter who fell at least 30 feet and suffered a broken wrist and facial lacerations and another crew member who had cuts and a sprain, said Sherman.

Three others were evaluated but not transported after slipping in steep terrain, he said. Sherman said he wasn’t sure yet whether the four burned structures were homes, sheds, garages or out buildings. 
The hand crews, with help from two air tanker and seven helicopter dropping fire retardant and water, had launched a “direct attack on the fire,” Sherman said. They were being helped by three bulldozers and six water tenders that were shuttling water back and forth between the fire line. 
“We’re starting to make some progress, but access is a big issue for us,” Sherman said. “It’s just steep, steep” terrain “and just hard access trying to get into this thing.”
Sherman said the smoke and steep landscape were making it difficult and potentially dangerous for firefighters. “We don't have winds, so that’s good,” he said. 
Residents along Deer Creek Road, Rons Road, Dons Road, Lost Valley Road, Favre Ridge and Oak Ridge were evacuated to emergency shelters at Lakeside Elementary School and Zayante Fire Station in Felton.

The new blaze cast a pall over fire officials, who were reporting major progress toward controlling the deadly wildfires that have devastated Santa Rosa and terrorized numerous Wine Country towns since Oct. 8.
The 51,512 acre Nuns Fire, straddling Sonoma and Napa counties, raised havoc over the weekend after it merged with four other fires, but firefighters had built a containment line around 53 percent of the burn area Tuesday and officials said it was well on its way toward full containment. 
The 51,064-acre Atlas Fire, which had raged through the Wine Country, was 77 percent contained and the Tubbs Fire, which scorched 36,432 acres during its rampage through Santa Rosa and neighboring communities, was 82 percent contained Tuesday.

No comments: