Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Wildfire forces evacuations in hills north of Santa Cruz

June 11, 2008 6:24 PM ET

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) - About 1,500 residents in the heavily forested hills north of Santa Cruz are being told to leave their homes as a quick-moving wildfire spreads through the area.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the 300-acre blaze broke out in the Bonny Doon area of Santa Cruz County just before 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Battalion Chief Paul Van Gerwen says there have been 500 mandatory evacuations and 1,000 voluntary evacuations. About 1,000 residences are threatened by the fire, which has set several structures ablaze.

Van Gerwen says the fire could spread to as many as 1,000 acres before firefighters are able to slow down the flames.

A thick plume of smoke can be seen rising hundreds of feet above the rural hills as air tankers and helicopters race to the scene.