3,870-acre summit fire 50 percent contained

May 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Cool, damp weather is helping firefighters get an edge today on a 3,870-acre fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains that has burned nearly 40 structures and is threatening hundreds more, according to Cal Fire.

The Summit Fire, which has cost about $6.1 million, is 50 percent contained and full containment could come as early as Tuesday night. The fire is expected to be under control Friday, Cal Fire spokeswoman Becky Bamberger said.

"We are very, very optimistic with the fact that the winds have died down," Bamberger said. "There is still about 4 miles of line to build. We are starting to get some fresh firefighters."

The fire, located about 30 miles south of Gilroy, has burned 20 residences and 18 commercial structures, Bamberger said. About 550 residential buildings and 20 commercial structures remain threatened.

Nearly 2,900 firefighters are fighting the fire today. There are 96 fire crews, 278 engines, two airtankers, 13 helicopters, 35 dozers and 47 water tenders.

Among the agencies assisting with the blaze are Cal Fire, the National Guard, California State Parks, Santa Clara County Parks and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

The fire made short runs during the night, but there wasn't significant expansion. Firefighters are facing continuing problems with establishing a line around the fire in the steep terrain. Thick swaths of dead brush and trees are also posing problems.

"What's burning right now is just the interior, which is what we wanted," Bamberger said. "We are kind of letting the center of it go ahead and burn and that is why people are still seeing smoke, but it is not moving outside of the line that has been established."

The temperature in the area of the Summit Fire was about 55 degrees at about 6:30 a.m. today. Fog mixed with smoke was blanketing the area. Winds were blowing 5 mph southwest and southeast this morning and were expected to reach about 10 mph. The forecasted humidity was about 60 percent.

Evacuations remain in effect for the unincorporated Santa Clara County community of Sveadal near Uvas Canyon County Park and residents of McPhee Road. In Santa Cruz County, residents in the area of Eureka Canyon Road and Ormsby Cutoff Road, Lower Highland Road, which includes Buzzard Lagoon, and the Vaca Del Sol area, remain evacuated.

A group of area residents was escorted to their homes Saturday at noon.

"It definitely was an emotional thing. There were grief counselors. There were all sorts of people for them to talk to if they found that there house had been burned," Bamberger said.

A town hall meeting is being held today at the Corralitos Community Center, which also serves as the community church. The 3 p.m. meeting is expected to be attended by officials from the Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office and Cal Fire, along with local officials. Residents can get the status of road closures and evacuations at the gathering.

After the meeting, information will be posted on a bulletin board at the Corralitos Market & Sausage Co., which is in the unincorporated Santa Cruz County community of Corralitos.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire. Cal Fire updates on the blaze are available online at http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents--current.

CAL FIRE says the fire is at 25 percent containment.

The fire is currently burning in a four-mile stretch in Eureka Canyon, near the town of Corralitos.

It is burning in the mountain range that separates Santa Cruz County from Santa Clara County about 40 miles south of downtown San Jose and about 10 miles west of Gilroy.

The fire began at 5:30 Thursday morning. Some 1,000 acres burned by 9:00 a.m. and by noon the fire had exploded to over 3,200 acres.

The fire was first reported near Summit and Ormsby roads and is in the mountain range that separates Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.

MAP: Summit fire location


Load Comments