Update 2:06 pm PT - Firefighters in the Santa Cruz Mountains facing hot temperatures as they battle wildfire
FELTON, Calif. (AP) - Firefighters in the Santa Cruz Mountains are facing temperatures close to 90 degrees and hot, dry air as they continue to battle a wildfire burning near the community of Bonny Doon.
The fire -- in a rugged area about ten miles northwest of Santa Cruz -- stands at about 700 acres. Governor Schwarzenegger issued a state of emergency for Santa Cruz County this morning.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for 500 residents, while voluntary evacuations are in place for another 1,000 residents.
One fire official warns the wildfire could spread to as many as 1,500 acres before being brought under control.
Update: 11:27 PT - Gov. Schwarzenegger Directs Coordinated State Effort to Fight Early California Wildfires. Declared a state of Emergency
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has directed additional resources to aggressively fight California's early wildfires through CAL FIRE and the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) and activated the DC-10 and DC-7 retardant dropping aircraft today
"As numerous wildfires burn across the state, I am directing a coordinated state effort to battle these blazes," Governor Schwarzenegger said. "Time and again, our history has demonstrated that we must move early, have the resources available and work together to fight these fires and keep people safe. I commend our brave firefighters for aggressively fighting these fires across the state, and my heart goes out to the three CAL FIRE firefighters who have been injured."
The three injured CAL FIRE firefighters are at UC Davis Medical Center receiving treatment. Two were transported by air ambulance with moderate to severe burns to the face and arms and a third was transported by ground ambulance with minor facial burns. All three firefighters were battling a 65-acre fire just west of Lincoln, which is now contained.
The Governor's Office of Emergency Services is closely monitoring fire activity throughout the state and is working closely with CAL FIRE and local jurisdictions to ensure they have access to the resources needed to respond to wildfires and other weather-related disasters.
BONNY DOON - The Martin Fire, which broke out about 3:30 p.m. in the1200 block of Martin Road off of Ice Cream Grade and Pine Flat Road,has covered at least 300 acres and is expected to grow to 1,000 acres,Cal Fire officials say.
As of 4:15 p.m., 1,400 residents have been evacuated from the heavily forested area dotted with residences.
Kate Springmeyer of Bonny Doon Fire and Rescue, which responded first to the fire, said it is burning in the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, a large open space with no houses in it, but all around it.
One thousand residences and 50 outbuildings are currently threatened, according to Cal Fire.
Springmeyer said hundreds of firefighters are on scene, but there is no containment. At least one house has burned.
A thick column of smoke could be seen from miles away and several strike teams have been sent to the area. Emergency engines were being called from across the area.
Battalion Chief Paul Van Gerwen said “This has the potential to become a major fire.”
Van Gerwen said fighting the fire “will depend on what the wind will do and access to resources.”
N. Calif. wildfires force hundreds to flee homes
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A second day of hot weather and dry wind stoked new wildfires across Northern California on Wednesday, as firefighters battled blazes that have damaged at least 50 homes and threaten hundreds more.
About 1,500 residents in the heavily forested hills north of Santa Cruz were told Wednesday afternoon to leave their homes as a quick-moving wildfire spread through the area.
The 300-acre blaze broke out in the Bonny Doon area of Santa Cruz County just before 3 p.m. Wednesday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
Battalion Chief Paul Van Gerwen said the fire threatened about 1,000 homes and had already set several structures ablaze. He said the fire could spread to as many as 1,000 acres before firefighters would be able to begin slowing it.
He said there were 500 mandatory evacuations and 1,000 voluntary evacuations.
A thick plume of smoke could be seen rising hundreds of feet above the rural hills as air tankers and helicopters raced to the scene.
Meanwhile, three firefighters trapped by flames while battling a 50-acre fire on Wednesday near Lincoln, about 25 miles north of Sacramento, were being treated at the University of California, Davis Medical Center regional burn center in Sacramento, fire officials said.
Two were being treated for moderate to severe burns to their faces and arms, while the third was treated for facial burns and released, said Bill Mendonca, battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Fires fed by wind, heat continue to pummel Northern Calif.
SACRAMENTO – Wind-driven wildfires raked Northern California for a second day Wednesday, including a raging forest fire that forced hundreds to evacuate in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The Santa Cruz fire flared just two weeks after another blaze two miles away scorched 4,200 acres and destroyed at least three dozen homes. Late Wednesday, mandatory evacuations were ordered for 500 residents in the heavily forested hills. Voluntary evacuations were in place for another 1,000 residents.
The fast-moving fire in the Bonny Doon area grew to more than 300 acres shortly after it broke out about 3 p.m. It could spread to as many as 1,000 acres before firefighters are able to slow down the flames, Battalion Chief Paul Van Gerwen said.
Hot temperatures, steady winds and tinder-dry vegetation created conditions exactly like those that fed the earlier blaze.
Those conditions also prevailed throughout the rest of Northern California, where hundreds of firefighters were deployed on fire lines from the North Coast wine country to the Central Valley.
For a second day, erratic wind gusts surprised firefighters who were overrun by flames.
Three firefighters were burned near Lincoln, about 35 miles northeast of Sacramento, when they were caught in a 65-acre grass fire burning in a dry rice field. Two of them had moderate to severe burns to their faces and arms, while the third was released from a hospital after treatment for minor facial burns.
The fire unexpectedly changed direction, trapping the firefighters and destroying two fire engines, said Bill Mendonca, battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Two are career firefighters from the state fire agency, while the third is a volunteer with the Placer County Fire Department. All three were taken to the University of California, Davis Medical Center regional burn center in Sacramento.
The burn center also was treating a 21-year veteran of the Sacramento Metro Fire Department who was injured on Tuesday while trying to protect a mobile home near a grass fire southeast of Sacramento.