SANTA CRUZ – Four wildfires in and near Santa Cruz the last seven days have ushered a busy start to fire season.
The local fires were reported while 13 large wildfires flared this week throughout the state, according to Cal Fire.
Friday afternoon, multiple agencies, including an inmate crew from Cal Fire, and a helicopter doused a 50-by-50-foot blaze that rapidly climbed a hill behind a Branciforte Drive home on Friday and belched smoke into the neighborhood below.
The fire was contained within a few hours without damaging property or hurting anyone.
Branciforte firefighter John Amadeo said the agency received reports of a controlled burn that had spread uphill from homes along Branciforte Drive near Mill Road. The fire spread from a home with a large greenhouse in the back yard and a fire pit that was surrounded with caution tape on Friday afternoon.
A fire line contained the fire by 3 p.m. Amadeo said the fire was unrelated to a blaze last week near the DeLaveaga Golf Course.
Other firefighters at the scene said it has been a busy fire season.
Neighbors watched as crews from Cal Fire, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and Central Fire worked the steep hillside fire. A Cal Fire helicopter doused the flames.
Don Dornseif, of nearby Santa Vida RV Park, has lived in the area for 40 years.
“We’ve seen fires, but not this close,” Dornseif said.
Kevin Barry, who has lived in the area 25 years, also said it is the first time a fire was so close to neighborhood homes.
“It’s windy. The whole place could go up,” Barry said.
Neighbor Eva Parrish said she could hear the dogs “squealing” at the home closest to the fire.
“I can always tell when something goes wrong on this road,” Parrish said.
THREE OTHER FIRES
Friday’s blaze broke out a week after a brush fire scorched a half acre near DeLaveaga Golf Course.
That half-acre fire burned through stands of dead trees in city limits near the golf course as neighbors watched from their driveways. There was talk of the threat of evacuations, but those proved unnecessary.
Early Friday morning, another fire was reported about 5 a.m. at Natural Bridges State Park when someone called 911 to report trees on fire in near Swanton Boulevard and Delaware Avenue on the Westside. Information was not immediately available about the result of that report.
About 2 p.m. Thursday, Santa Cruz Fire Department responded to a report of smoke near the Friendship Garden at Harvey West Park. When a fire engine arrived, a plume of smoke rose from the wooded area near the garden, Fire Chief Jim Frawley said.
The fire was contained within 45 minutes and multiple agencies were called to help with prevention measures to protect homes near the area.
The fire burned about a fifth of an acre, Frawley said. The fire’s cause is under investigation.
For information, visit readyforwildfire.org.
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