Thursday, May 22, 2008


Photo from San Jose Mercury News website Twitter is going crazy this morning with reports of a large wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There are reports in the Mercury News and LA Times, KPIX and all the other local news channels.

I believe this is the affected area although that's a cloud on the photo not smoke from the fire. (spooky!) EDIT: I was close. Here's a Google map, including photos, from the Mercury News and Santa Cruz Sentinel. It's being updated with more photos as they come in.

The CDF Incident page is here. Most recent reports are that 2,500 acres are affected and the fire is out of control with 0% containment. Over 500 firefighters from all over the state are fighting the blaze and evacuating residents. There are 25 Fire Engines, 7 Air tankers and 3 Helicopters. Fire chiefs are estimating that it could affect up to 10,000 acres in all. The area is dotted with homes; at least 10 have been destroyed and hundreds of people are understood to have been evacuated. Helicopters are being used to drop water on the blaze and fire retardants onto nearby homes, but the fire is being blown south by strong (40MPH+) winds.

The nearest winery is Windy Oaks, a couple of miles to the south east in Corralitos. Reports from the area indicate that ash is falling but as yet the risk is low.

KTVU is quoting a resident in the area as saying one of their neighbours had been given a "burn permit" and that there had been smoldering fires on the property for three weeks - they were allegedly removing trees and brush off their property to make room for a vineyard. Other nearby residents have confirmed that the owner had been warned by local fire officials about the dangers of the smoldering embers more than once.

There was another major fire in the area a few years ago. In that fire over 3,000 acres were destroyed and over 30 houses. The area is lightly populated, but access is very difficult.