SB lane of Hwy 17 remains due to fire in Santa Cruz Mountains

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One southbound lane of Highway 17 is still closed Tuesday morning due to a brush fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains. (KGO-TV)

Firefighters are trying to make sure a brush fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains doesn't flare up again.

Highway 17 is partially reopened, but the afternoon commute may still be a problem.

The fire spread across five acres. Now that flames are under control, firefighters are concerned with potential falling debris.

Traffic has been bad along Highway 17, but there could be relief. Caltrans said it's scheduled to have one lane closed until 10 p.m., but they are hoping to get it opened at 2 p.m. But that will be up to Cal Fire.

The fates of five giant trees along Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains were sealed. They stood for the last time on Tuesday. They were burned Monday in a brush fire near the Redwood Estates Community, just north of the summit.

RELATED: Brush fire threatens structures along Hwy 17 in Los Gatos

Two hundred firefighters were on the scene and some residents had to evacuate the area. It took about two hours to contain the flames and no homes burned. Cal Fire wanted the trees brought down Tuesday because they didn't want to risk them falling down at some unknown time in the future.

For about 20 minutes, both directions of Highway 17 were closed down just in case a tree fell into the roadway.

Firefighters are still working in the steep terrain and expect to be there all day, but they want a little extra room to work with. That's why they had Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol close one southbound lane starting at Idylwild Road.

"Everything up there is loose. A lot of loose soil. A lot of downed debris and it's very steep. So, the firefighters as they're moving around that steep terrain they could dislodge something, Knock it down the hill and have it roll out," said Cal Fire Capt. Tom Firth.

During the morning commute southbound traffic is usually smooth sailing, but on Tuesday, with only one lane open, cars were crawling up the hill.

Firefighters are spending a lot of time on the fire, making sure it is 100 percent cold before they leave.

"Fires can start very easily. Especially with the hot temperatures, low humidity, and winds we had, the drought is still a concern of ours," Firth said.

Cal Fire has a station at Bear Creek Road ad responds to accidents and fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains off Highway 17.

And with limited space on the southbound side they want to remind everyone to pull to the right, not the left if you see lights and sirens behind you.
Related Topics:
newsfirefirefightersbrush firewildfireLos Gatos
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