Breaking Earth News
Firefighters continued to fight a persistent wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains that has chewed through acres of centuries-old redwoods, destroyed at least 17 homes and displaced hundreds of people.
Fire officials said they had contained about 25 percent of the blaze, which so far has burned about 5 square miles and destroyed 28 structures. Another 500 buildings were threatened.
Calmer winds and heavy fog Friday morning brought much-needed relief to firefighters. But as the marine layer lifted and the gusts picked up by afternoon, crews found themselves struggling to maintain the fire lines.
Almost 2,000 residents remained under evacuation orders _ more than 450 of them mandatory _ while almost 2,700 firefighters and a swarm of tanker planes and helicopters continued dousing the area, said Dave Shew, a battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the Santa Cruz Mountains Friday to assess the damage and declared a state of emergency in Santa Cruz County to allow access to funds for the effort.
But even as extra water-dropping aircraft are purchased, building codes tightened and goat herds sent to gobble up dry brush on rugged hillsides, Californians are beginning to accept a new reality — massive wildfires are here to stay.