Northern California wildfire forces hundreds to evacuate mountainous area


LOS ANGELES Firefighters worked to control a wildfire on Tuesday in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco Bay area that has forced hundreds of residents to evacuate, despite its relatively small size, officials said.

The so-called Loma Fire broke out on Monday afternoon and has scorched more than 1,000 acres (405 hectares) about 10 miles (16 km) northwest of the town of Morgan Hill, fire officials said. Firefighters have built containment lines around 5 percent of the blaze.

The fire threatens about 300 homes spread out along a network of rural roads through valleys and hills in the Santa Cruz Mountains, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents, said Captain Brian Oliver of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District.

With temperatures in the area nearing 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), the more than 500 firefighters working to contain the blaze scrambled on Tuesday to protect buildings in the area, officials said.

Oliver said the fire, coming at the height of California’s wildfire season, has the potential to balloon in size.

“A lot of it just depends on what kind of progress they can make before any significant winds come in,” he said by phone.

The blaze has destroyed one structure and damaged another, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Heather Williams.

Fire officials are investigating its cause.

More than 60 miles (96 km) to the south, firefighters on Tuesday continued to make progress against the more than two-month old Soberanes Fire. It was 78 percent contained after scorching more than 127,478 acres (51,589 hectares), mostly in the Los Padres National Forest, and destroying 57 homes and 11 outbuildings, officials said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Alan Crosby)



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