SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS (CBS SF) – The Loma Fire that started in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Santa Clara County last week is 90 percent contained at 4,474 acres as of early Tuesday morning, Cal Fire officials said.
The wildfire began around 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 26 near Loma Prieta and Loma Chiquita roads about 10 miles northwest of Morgan Hill and near the border with Santa Cruz County, Cal Fire officials said.
The blaze was estimated to reach full containment Monday, but has since been extended to Saturday, Cal Fire spokesman Bryan Martin said.
Firefighters were faced with hot and dry conditions when the fire first broke out, but a complete change in the weather aided suppression efforts, especially increased humidity, Martin said.
A cold front over the weekend led to strong winds, but the fire containment lines remained in place, according to Martin.
There have been few to no flames in the fire area since Sunday and crews have mainly been conducting mop-up operations, Martin said.
Crews continued mopping up Monday and held existing fire lines as they maintained readiness for any new flare-ups, Cal Fire officials said.
The blaze has destroyed 12 homes and 16 outbuildings, damaged one other residence and is threatening 51 other structures, Cal Fire officials said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Nearly 1,000 fire personnel are fighting the blaze using 47 fire engines, three helicopters, eight bulldozers and 15 water tenders, Cal Fire officials said.
In the past week, about five firefighters were hospitalized for minor injuries, treated and released, according to Martin.
Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for the Loma Prieta ridgeline area, including all tributary roads along Summit Road east of Soquel San Jose Road to Ormsby Fire Station. People have also been instructed to leave Loma Chiquita Road and Loma Prieta roads.
Casa Loma Road northeast of Twin Fall Creek has been reopened to residents, Cal Fire officials said.
Santa Cruz County residents who were ordered to leave their homes were allowed to return last week.
An evacuation center is open at Morgan Hill Presbyterian Church at 16970 De Witt Ave. in Morgan Hill.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District was reporting moderate air conditions for the Santa Clara Valley as of Monday morning and recommended people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution to limit their time outside.
Residents can also help stop air from getting indoors by altering their air conditioning settings and closing their windows, district officials said.
Closures are in effect at Loma Prieta Road at Loma Prieta Way, and at Casa Loma Road west of McKean Road.
Cash is being collected to donate for base camp operations at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, but under state law Cal Fire crews cannot solicit or accept the donations, agency officials said.
The camp has enough supplies and the agency is able to provide for fire personnel working the blaze, according to Cal Fire.
The American Red Cross is accepting donations for those affected by the fire online at http://www.redcross.org/donate/donations.
Food, goods and other items can be sent to the Salvation Army in Santa Cruz and Gilroy and Second Harvest Food Bank in Watsonville.
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