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Loma Fire Grows In Santa Cruz Mountains, More Evacuations Ordered

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS (CBS SF) – The Loma Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains grew to 2,250 acres as of Tuesday evening, destroying one home, damaging another and leading to hundreds of evacuations, according to Cal Fire.

The Loma Fire sparked in the area of Loma Prieta and Loma Chiquita roads about 10 miles northwest of Morgan Hill around 2:50 p.m. Monday, Cal Fire officials said.

The area is north of the border between Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, where a large plume of smoke could be seen for miles.

On Monday, the fire had spread to more than 400 acres as of 5:40 p.m., and grew to 1,000 acres by 9:30 p.m.

As of early Tuesday evening, the blaze had charred through 2,250 acres and was 10 percent contained, according to Cal Fire officials.

It has spread to the Mount Loma Prieta, Mount Chual and Uvas Creek drainages, officials said.

Roughly 300 structures are threatened and numerous residents of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties have been evacuated, Oliver said.

Reverse 911 calls have been sent to affected Santa Clara County residents through the AlertSCC notification system, Cal Fire officials said.

Residents have been ordered to leave the Loma Prieta ridgeline area that includes Uvas Canyon County Park and Summit Road from Soquel San Jose Road to the Ormsby Fire Station, according to Cal Fire.

In Santa Clara County, deputies helped evacuate people on Loma Prieta, Casa Loma, Summit, Uvas and Loma Chiquita roads, sheriff's officials said.

In Santa Cruz County, people have been advised to evacuate Summit Road between Loma Prieta and the Ormsby Cutoff, county officials said.

An evacuation center initially set up at Soquel High School at 401 Old San Jose Road in Soquel has moved to the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds' Grange Hall at 2601 East Lake Avenue in Watsonville, county officials said.

The Santa Cruz Fairgrounds were opened as an evacuation center because the facility can take animals.

Other centers are available at the Jewish Community Center of Silicon Valley at 14855 Oka Road in Los Gatos and Morgan Hill Presbyterian Church at 16970 De Witt Ave. in Morgan Hill, Cal Fire officials said.

Traffic has been blocked in multiple areas including Loma Chiquita Road, Mount Bache Road at Highland Road and Mount Madonna Road at Pole Line Road, Cal Fire officials said.

Residents are allowed to travel on Croy and Uvas roads, according to Cal Fire.

Crews cleared out brush and trees to give themselves more defensible space, just in case the winds shift and the fire crosses the ravine.

It is hot, dangerous work in steep terrain and dirty conditions.

A small army has assembled at Summit and Loma Prieta roads that will do their best hold the line here on the road.

More than 500 firefighters are working to extinguish the blaze with assistance from helicopter, air tanker and water tender crews, according to Cal Fire.

Many firefighters from San Jose, the Bay Area and throughout the state have been sent to help extinguish the blaze working under 24-hour shifts, Oliver said.

The high temperatures have increased the need for crews to stay hydrated and stay ahead of the "fatigue factor," Oliver said.

The state's Office of Emergency Service has sent its large animal rescue volunteer group to rescue horses and other livestock, according to Oliver.

Those with livestock can seek assistance at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and Santa Cruz County Horsemen's Association grounds on Graham Hill Road, American Red Cross officials said.

The blaze has led to a power outage for 191 PG&E customers in Santa Clara County as of Tuesday afternoon, utility officials said.

PG&E crews were sent to Uvas and Croy roads Tuesday afternoon to cut vegetation near power poles and spray the poles with fire retardant to lessen the chance of damage from the blaze, according to PG&E.

No injuries had been reported as of Tuesday afternoon. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The expected full containment date for the Loma Fire is October 3.

Anyone looking for more information on the fire can call the Loma Fire public hotline at (408) 779-0930.

Meanwhile to the north in Sonoma County, crews gained control over a 2-square-mile fire that briefly threatened homes and The Geysers geothermal complex, a massive power producing facility.

Evacuation and road closure orders were lifted Monday evening after firefighters increased containment to 45 percent, Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said.

"It's looking very good, but we still need to make sure smoke and small fires inside the perimeter are taken care of," he said.

A statewide heat wave that baked even coastal cities that normally benefit from the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean was expected to start easing Tuesday.

The mercury shot up into triple digits in downtown Los Angeles and points north and south as high pressure gripped the drought-stricken state. Most other areas were in the 90s or at least the 80s.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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