At least a dozen fires ignited across Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties after powerful Santa Ana winds blew in Tuesday, causing evacuations in several areas. By Wednesday, mandatory evacuations were lifted.
“Evacuation orders were lifted in Freedom and Panther Fires,” CAL FIRE San Mateo – Santa Cruz Unit announced shortly before 2 p.m. Pacific.
On Tuesday, a significant wind event swept through San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, which resulted in downed trees, tree limbs, and power lines across the region, and “presumably sparked more than 18 vegetation fires within an 18-hour time period,” CAL FIRE San Mateo-Santa Cruz reported. “Winds continued to hamper firefighting efforts throughout the day, but as night fell, conditions improved. Firefighters were able to grow containment lines.”
The Freedom Fire burned more than 100 acres across the Santa Cruz Mountains. No homes were lost and no injuries were reported.
Evacuations in the Aptos Hills area were lifted Wednesday. Several fires are burning roughly 15 miles to the northwest, in the same area where wildfires raged last summer.
CAL FIRE is urging residents to “know your zone” by going to zonehaven.com.
In Eldorado National Forest, the Union Fire and Cold Fire were burning about 12 miles apart from each other near the Union Valley Reservoir, Mercury News reported. The Union Fire spans 22 acres; the Cold Fire, 10 to 15 acres. Both were expected to be contained Wednesday.
As of Wednesday morning, fires were contained partially in several other counties:
The National Weather Service issued a high-wind alert Monday for over 30 million people from north-central California down to Southern California. The high-wind warning remained in effect until 10 p.m. Pacific Wednesday for San Bernardino and Riverside County Valleys-The Inland Empire-San Bernardino County Mountains-Riverside County Mountains-Santa Ana Mountains and Foothills-San Gorgonio Pass Near Banning-Orange County Inland Areas.
This includes the cities of Riverside, San Bernardino, Ontario, Moreno Valley, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Corona, Crestline, Running Springs, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, Banning, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Orange, Fullerton, and Mission Viejo.
Northeast winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 60 mph were expected through Wednesday with isolated gusts to 70 mph in the Inland Empire below the Cajon and San Gorgonio Passes and in the coastal foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains.
A high-wind alert was also in effect in San Diego County through 6 p.m. Pacific Wednesday.
The alert says that Californians “should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches. If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.”
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