Wind shifts in Santa Cruz Mountains, prevents evacuees from returning home

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The Loma Fire burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains is now 50 percent contained and 4,345 acres. Cooler weather and higher humidity have given Cal Fire crews a much-needed break. (KGO-TV)

The Loma Fire burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains is now 50 percent contained and 4,345 acres. Cooler weather and higher humidity have given Cal Fire crews a much-needed break.

PHOTOS: Crews battle brush fire in Santa Cruz Mountains


But in the meantime, a possible shift in winds is keeping some evacuees from returning to their residences and making it a frustrating week for those who just want to go home.

"I miss my home, I really miss my home," said evacuee Tim Austin. "It makes me want to cry every time I think about it."

Cal Fire factored shifting winds into its firefighting strategy and also just announced that the agency will hold another meeting for residents on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Morgan Hill Community Center.

When winds pick up, they create spot fires where embers are carried a distance away. Cal Fire has been expecting gusts up to 35 mph, which can carry embers a half mile.


However, there has not been a massive response to some spot fires, such as aerial drops or crews moving in, because Cal Fire crews have already created control lines or fire breaks, where vegetation has been removed down to the soil. There is nothing left to burn.

A major Dozer line has also been cut to keep the fire from advancing.

"It allows us to get in and work on the containment and work on, we call it a mop up, between those lines back in," Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jeremy Rahn said. "So if the winds come up, there's not hot embers or anything to move past those points."

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Both Cal Fire and inmate crews are working in deep ravines where the steep walls can lead to injuries. Evacuating those needing medical care isn't easy.

"I would say no less than 10 people to help an injured person up a hillside," said Cal Fire Public Information Officer Captain Jordan Motta. "They're going to have to set up what we call a stokes basket, that's where you see like a litter to carry that person if their injuries were to that extent. Or even just aid someone in walking up a 100 percent slope. Just to walk up there on your own is extremely difficult."

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Residents have been showing their appreciation, dropping off food. Cal Water employees have donated bottled water. However, Cal Fire says it has plenty on hand.

Firefighters saved Bill Powell's house.

"They know exactly what they're doing," he said. "They know how to do it, they know when to do it, they have the resources. They've got the people, best attitude in the world. They're doing an incredibly good job."

Evacuations:
Evacuations have been lifted for Santa Cruz County residents.

Road closures:
Loma Prieta Road 1 mile east of Highland Way
Summit Road at Ormsby Cutoff
Croy Road 3 miles west of Uvas Road
Casa Loma and McKean Road

Click here for full coverage on the Loma Fire.
Related Topics:
newscal firefirefirefighterssanta clara countybrush firesanta cruz countyinvestigationLoma FireSanta Cruz
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