Santa Cruz Wildfire Evacuations

October 26, 2009 3:20:03 PM PDT
Dozens of homes are in the line of fire as a wildfire is spreading over the Santa Cruz Mountains Sunday night. The 600-acre wildfire burning in the Maymen's Flat Area has already destroyed one home and is burning in the same area where 35 homes were lost just a year and a half ago.

The fire started around 3:00 a.m. Sunday in an area particularly stubborn for firefighters. By 8:00 a.m. 300 acres had already burned.

The frame of Kenneth Kim's first home is all that is left. He lost everything after last year's Summit Fire. He rebuilt a new home and replanted vines for the winery he hopes to one day open. But, when he woke up to a pre-dawn wall of flames, he came so close to losing it all again.

"I woke up and came out and that's what I noticed. The fire was all surrounded, kind of like a u-shape," he told ABC7.

The flames burned in almost the exact area that burned more than 100 homes and 4,000 acres in the May 2008 Summit Fire. This time around, the damage was far less devastating.

One firefighter hurt his ankle and had to be evacuated by helicopter because of the steep terrain. It was those same jagged hills that made battling the fire especially tough, along with winds that at times reached 40 mph and forced airplanes conducting water drops to be temporarily grounded.

In all, 150 homes were threatened, but just one trailer and two outbuildings were destroyed. Still, Joe Waddell and his brother lost everything.

"Everything. Everything I own, burned on this property," he said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. CAL FIRE could not confirm neighbors' claims that fire crews were clearing roads or performing a controlled burn in the same area a day earlier.

"Somebody's going to be liable for this and CAL FIRE's the one that lit the match," said Waddell.

Nearly 1000 firefighters battled the fire, which meant Kim's home stayed protected this time around.

"No, I'm not going nowhere. I'm going to be staying here. I'm going to replant the vine," he said.

The fire was around 20 percent contained around 5:00 p.m. Sunday and firefighters would not say when they anticipated having the fire under control. Mandatory evacuations remained in place for dozens of residents in the area although officials said it appeared that many residents were refusing to leave.



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