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Crews struggle to contain California wildfire

Image Above: From left, James Perkins, Chad Brisendine and Ephraim Murad, of the Fresno Fire Dept., monitor the Summit Fire from the deck of a home in the Santa Cruz Mountains west of Gilroy, Calif., Friday, May 23, 2008. Calmer winds and heavy fog brought some much-needed relief Friday morning to firefighters working to rein in a wildfire that quickly consumed a dozen buildings in the Santa Cruz Mountains a day earlier. By dawn, the blaze was 20 percent contained after scorching over 3,000 acres. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Breaking Earth News
California, USA

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.

Related News

California eyes another tough wildfire season

October's devastating wildfires, which burned more than 500,000 acres from Malibu's ocean enclave to the Mexican border, prompted a flurry of reports and promises.

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.

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