More evacuees return after Martin Fire

June 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Lots of people burned out of their homes by the Martin Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains were allowed back home on Friday night. Firefighters made a lot of progress in the Bonnie Doon community, where two days ago the expectation was that this fire was going to do a lot more damage.

There was a lot of fear and worry that the Santa Cruz fire that erupted on Wednesday would do a lot more damage that it did.

On Friday night there were still hundreds of firefighters on the line still fighting the fire and putting out hot spots. Lots of homeowners, though got to take a look at what damage was left after the fire.

"There's a big sense of relief. I was very worried. I have the original wood shake roof on the house," said Kurt Christiansen, a Pine Ridge homeowner.

He left the sprinklers on his roof going when he evacuated. His house and his neighbors' survived and they credit the firefighters.

"They were cutting what the firefighters described as, 'A six lane highway' around the neighborhood as a firebreak," said Christiansen.

At 6 p.m. on Friday night, the evacuation order on Pine Ridge and Empire Grade was officially lifted. Returning residents had to put away the computers and photos they snatched in a panic on their way out.

"We ransacked our own house. Dumping out boxes and finding papers and things that we really needed, so our house was a disaster," said Alan Chase, an evacuee.

The 600 acre Bonny Doon fire took off Wednesday afternoon. Thursday, 889 firefighters from across the state took a stand with bulldozers and helicopters.

"The weather really cooperated with us today. We had high humidities, almost no wind on the fire, so our crews were able to almost double their efforts from yesterday, so we are currently at 65 percent contained. We are expected to be fully contained by tomorrow," said Bill Peters, a CAL FIRE Spokesman.

Local fire crews have been sent home. Others will work though the night unless safety becomes an issue.

"Last night we had to stop and pull back because a lot of the trees that were burned, have become hazardous and one fell last night and almost hit crew members," said Peters.

Nearby residents applauded the progress as they voiced their frustration.

"No internet, no radio, no TV, and luckily we have a short-wave. That is all that we were getting and it's our disaster," said Laurie Babka, a nearby resident.

However, disaster was adverted. Ten buildings were destroyed, two of them homes, but residents say they see the silver lining.

"They can get it all out and nothing flares up, it's going to be a blessing in disguise because it's only going to bring a lot of awareness to what we need to do to keep this from all happening again. It has burned up a lot of the dead limbs and stuff that were down in the forest there," said Christiansen.

Shelter Information:

  • The Red Cross shelter has been relocated from San Lorenzo Valley Middle School to Scotts Valley Middle School at 8 Bean Creek Road, near the intersection of Bean Creek Road and Scotts Valley Drive. The new Scotts Valley Middle School shelter will provide food, cots, counseling and assessment/referral services.

    Evacuation orders have been lifted on Friday for the following areas

  • Pine Flat Road
  • Pine Ridge Road
  • Empire Grade
  • Ice Cream grade
  • Smith grade
  • Emerald Grade

    The following areas are still evacuated

  • Martin Road
  • Quail Road
  • Portions of Bonny Doon Road
  • The Pine Ridge subdivision

    Evacuation information

  • The Red Cross Martin Fire Shelter has moved from San Lorenzo Valley Middle School to Scotts Valley Middle School on 8 Bean Creek Road in Scotts Valley.
  • The Red Cross Santa Cruz County Chapter will be providing food, shelter and counseling until evacuated residents are allowed to return back to their homes or until alternative housing is available.
  • For up-to-date information on shelter locations: Red Cross Santa Cruz County Chapter - (831) 462-2881

  • CAL FIRE number for residents for information on whether their homes are in an evacuation area: (831) 335-6717 or (831) 335-6718

    Animal evacuation information

  • 140 animals have been rescued.
  • For assistance with the evacuation of pets left behind due to evacuation orders, call Animal Services at 454-7303 (corrected phone number). Evacuated livestock have been housed at the Graham Hill Showgrounds.

    Donations

    Santa Cruz County Bank is accepting donations. Call (831) 457-5000 during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Friday's Video

    Thursday's video:

    Wednesday's video: Images:

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