SANTA CRUZ (KPIX 5) — A monthslong project to create a defensible space along Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains is nearing its end as major wildfires continue to burn around the state.
“Great, good plan, anything they can do to make this is less of a tinder box,” said Santa Cruz Mountain resident Kris Yenney.READ MORE: Pfeiffer Falls Trail Damaged In Big Sur Wildfire To Reopen After 13-Year Closure
The Shaded Fuelbreak Project is now in its tenth week and according to the project’s site, it’s expected to be completed by the first week of November.
Cal Fire is clearing brush and trees from Los Gatos to the Summit, which is a 6.5 mile stretch. Sawed off limbs and brush could be seen along the highway for miles. There was no immediate word from Cal Fire on how many miles had been completed.
The corridor would be used by thousands to evacuate Santa Cruz during a major wildfire. Cal Fire hopes to slow down, if not completely stop, a wildfire from heading for the road and prevent Highway 17 from being a death trap.READ MORE: COVID: Get Vaccinated, Win Trips, Prizes, Free Food And Discounted Sports Swag
“That’s the kind of scary part, if the roads are kind of bollocks already, if there was a grand exodus or something, that would be challenging,” Yenney said.
“We’re trying to make it safer so there’s a nice, clear space between where the highway and the heavy forest starts,” Caroline Slivkoff of the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council told KPIX 5 earlier this month.
With funding for the project expected to run out at the end of the year, crews are working to complete the work soon. Windy conditions halted work earlier this week, but started back up again Wednesday.MORE NEWS: COVID Recovery: Levi's Stadium Mass Vaccination Site To Close On June 24
“It’s on all our minds because everybody north and south of us is suffering right now, and we’re in kind of a vulnerable spot, so we think about it,” said Yenney.