Loma Fire in Santa Cruz Mountains 85 percent contained


SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (BCN)—The Loma Fire that started in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Santa Clara County about a week ago is 85 percent contained at 4,474 acres as of Monday night, Cal Fire officials said.

The wildfire began around 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 26 near Loma Prieta and Loma Chiquita roads about 10 miles northwest of Morgan Hill and near the border with Santa Cruz County, Cal Fire officials said.

The blaze was estimated to reach full containment today, but has since been extended to Saturday, Cal Fire spokesman Bryan Martin said.

Firefighters were faced with hot and dry conditions when the fire first broke out, but a complete change in the weather aided suppression efforts, especially increased humidity that has brought moisture in the air, Martin said.

A cold front over the weekend led to strong winds, but the fire containment lines remained in place, according to Martin.

There have been little to no flames in the fire area since Sunday and crews have mainly been conducting mop up operations, Martin said.

Crews have entered black sections of the fire to put out any hot spots and cut down trees, according to Martin.

The blaze has destroyed 12 homes and 16 outbuildings, damaged one other residence and is threatening 51 other structures, Cal Fire officials said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

More than 1,300 fire personnel are fighting the blaze using 76 fire engines, four helicopters, nine bulldozers and 14 water tenders, Cal Fire officials said.

In the past week, about five firefighters were hospitalized for minor injuries, treated and released, according to Martin.

Firefighters continue to face numerous obstacles including inaccessible terrain, vegetation affected by the drought and stumps and dead wood that could help fuel the blaze, according to Cal Fire.

Crews planned on reinforcing their established fire lines today, Cal Fire officials said.

Fire personnel are prepared for any new flare-ups on the steep terrain, Cal Fire officials said.

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for the Loma Prieta ridgeline area, including all tributary roads along Summit Road east of Soquel San Jose Road to Ormsby Fire Station. People have also been instructed to leave Loma Chiquita Road, Casa Loma Road and Loma Prieta Way, according to Cal Fire.

Santa Cruz County residents who were ordered to leave their homes were allowed to return last week.

An evacuation center is open at Morgan Hill Presbyterian Church at 16970 De Witt Ave. in Morgan Hill.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is reporting moderate air conditions for the Santa Clara Valley as of this morning and recommend people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution to limit their time outside.

Residents can also help stop air from getting indoors by altering the air conditioning settings and closing their windows, district officials said.

Closures are in effect at Loma Prieta Road a mile east of Highland Way and Summit Road at Ormsby Road, Cal Fire officials said.

Cal Fire crews have learned people have been collecting cash to donate for base camp operations at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, but under state law they cannot solicit or accept the donations, agency officials said.

The camp has enough supplies and the agency is able provide for fire personnel working the blaze, according to Cal Fire.

The American Red Cross is accepting donations for those affected by the fire online at http://www.redcross.org/donate/donations.

Food, goods and other items can be sent to the Salvation Army in Santa Cruz and Gilroy and Second Harvest Food Bank in Watsonville.

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