Wildfire Rages in California Mountains

Hundreds of firefighters were battling a wildfire Thursday that forced 2,400 people to evacuate their homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains.


DAVENPORT, Calif. --

Hundreds of firefighters were battling a wildfire Thursday that forced 2,400 people to evacuate their homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The Lockheed Fire, which started around 7 p.m. Wednesday, has burned about 2,300 acres, or 3.6 square miles, and has not been contained at all, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Authorities issued a mandatory evacuation order Thursday morning for the entire community of Bonny Doon, which has about 2,000 residents and is about eight miles north of Santa Cruz, said CalFire spokeswoman Julie Hutchinson.

Everyone also has been ordered to leave the nearby community of Swanton, where about 400 people live.

"It's a significant fire that is burning in a rural, inaccessible, steep terrain with vegetation that has been stressed by the drought," Hutchinson said. "It's like having firewood in your fireplace that's dry and ready to burn."

A shelter for evacuees has been set up in Santa Cruz.

The blaze is about three miles from the site of last year's Martin Fire, which burned 520 acres and destroyed 11 buildings in the Bonny Doon area in June 2008.

Further down the coast, more than 1,600 firefighters are trying to control a 46-square-mile blaze in northern Santa Barbara County. The fire was about 10 percent contained Thursday morning, said Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Sadecki.

The blaze, which started Saturday, prompted the evacuation Thursday of 10 homes on the edge of the Los Padres National Forest, he said. Fourteen ranches had previously been evacuated.

In far northern California, two separate wildfires forced the evacuation of more than 30 homes.

In Trinity County, about 25 homes were evacuated as gusty winds fed a fire that has burned about 1.9 square miles southwest of Lewiston, CalFire spokeswoman Mickie Jakez said. The mountain community 30 miles west of Redding is home to 1,300 people.

Authorities arrested a person suspected of sparking the fire by smoking carelessly, Jakez said. The blaze was 40 percent contained Thursday, and firefighters hoped for complete containment Friday if winds cooperate.

Farther east, a wildfire covering nearly 10 square miles has forced the evacuation of 10 homes about 10 miles northwest of Burney.

Firefighters have nearly contained three other lightning-caused fires in Shasta and Lassen counties.


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