Major wildfire burns in Santa Cruz Co.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CA -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acting Calif. governor declares wildfire emergency
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California's lieutenant governor will declare a state of emergency for Santa Cruz County as a wildfire has prompted mandatory evacuations for 2,400 people.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi says his declaration, to be signed Friday afternoon, is a step toward getting federal assistance for local governments and private property owners.

Garamendi said Friday he is acting at the request of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, which declared a local emergency.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is out of state attending the funeral of his mother-in-law, Eunice Shriver. His office says he will return to California later Friday and tour the Santa Cruz fire zone on Saturday.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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3:30 a.m. Friday morning, five engines from Fresno City, Fresno County, Clovis, Kingsburg and Sanger gathered at Kleins Truck Stop in Northwest Fresno to head to the fire in Santa Cruz. Five other engines from Kings County also left this morning to help.
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LIVE STREAM: Watch SKY7HD live over the fire
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All throughout the day the fire is very hard to control. There is a lot of timber, dry brush, and early evening winds that it worse. As of 11 p.m. winds started to die down and kept the fire in place, not spreading very far. As of 9 p.m. however, the wind was still pushing the fire southeast toward the town of Bonnie Doon. That entire town got the evacuation order Thursday morning, along with those living on and off Swanton Road in Davenport.

The fire was only 1.5 miles away from Bonnie Doone. Residents started packing up and leaving Wednesday night. They headed to evacuation centers in Davenport at Pacific Elementary School and in Santa Cruz at Vintage Church.

Firefighters really hoped a marine layer would have come in by early Thursday evening. That would have helped calm things down and perhaps even shift the wind due east away from Bonnie Doone and toward some rural canyons. Firefighters are still hoping to make a lot of progress during the night.

"Usually fires lay down during the night and that's when we can take advantage of that and make some progress to contain the fire. But what's happening tonight? At this point the fire is just, we're trying to get lines in hold this fire," said Mario Rivera from CAL FIRE.

Fire crews have been attacking this fire from all angles -- all day long. So far, two structures have been damaged, but it unknown at this time if they are homes or out structures.

"We're throwing everything we've got at it," CAL FIRE spokesperson Julie Hutchinson said. "We've got to get out ahead of this, got to start getting an anchor point, start working that perimeter line around this so we can get some containment."

625 fire fighters are working this fire. But because it could move in so many directions, there is still not a clear game plan as to how to proceed next. On Thursday night 900 more fire fighters are expected to arrive -- bringing to total of those fighting this fire to 1,500 by Friday morning.

CAL FIRE has ordered mandatory evacuations for all Bonny Doon residents and recommends residents in the Davenport area be prepared to leave. Over 2,000 people have been forced out of their homes today.

About 400 residents in the nearby community of Swanton have also been evacuated.

An evacuation center has been set up at Pacific Elementary School in the town of Davenport. There are no beds set up there, but they are collecting information and providing shelter. Also, the American Red Cross has established a shelter at Vintage Faith Church located at 350 Mission St. in Santa Cruz.

Sheriffs were going door-to-door in the area, but were very concerned they may not reach all of the residents who are off the grid and wouldn't have received the emergency calls. Because the area is so remote, many people rely on their own well water and backup generators.

Some residents are trying to help as best they can. Many began packing up and leaving within minutes if receiving the order to evacuate. One man who had a 30,000 gallon pond on his property posted a sign out on the road letting fire crews know there was a source of water nearby.

CAL FIRE crews are using the nearby Lockheed Martin Space Systems campus as a command center. Swanton Road at Highway 1 has been closed in both directions as well as Bonny Doon Road. There are delays on Highway 17 as crews approach the fire.

The fire started around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday night in the area of Scott Creek Canyon, just west of the Lockheed Martin facility.

The wildfire is at 0 percent containment.

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