June 11, 2008

Boony Doon Fire, Started on Martin Road

At 4:10 pm my husband gave me a call.
"Honey, just got an automated message to evacuate"
My first thought is get my cat Lulu yourself and leave!!! I am still waiting for Ken and Lulu to appear.

Here is information about the fire from the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

A wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains town of Bonny Doon that broke out about 3 p.m. has scorched at least 300 acres and is expected to grow to 1,000 acres, Cal Fire officials say.

As of 5:45 p.m., 1,400 residents had been told to evacuate from the heavily forested area dotted with residences for the blaze that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is calling the Martin fire.

Kate Springmeyer of Bonny Doon Fire and Rescue, which responded first to the fire, said it is burning in the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, a large open space with no houses in it, but which has residences all around it.

Springmeyer said hundreds of firefighters are on scene, but there is no containment. At least one house has burned.

A thick column of smoke could be seen from Santa Cruz to San Jose and several strike teams have been sent to the area. Fire crews were being called from across the area.

Battalion Chief Paul Van Gerwen said "This has the potential to become a major fire."

Van Gerwen said fighting the fire "will depend on what the wind will do and access to resources."

There are more than a dozen homes on Martin Road and dozens more in the evacuation areas as well as several businesses.

A mandatory evacuation was ordered for Ice Cream Grade, Pine Flat and Bonny Doon roads at 3:48 p.m. and law enforcement started reverse 911 calls to homeowners in the area warning them of the evacuation. A large contingent of law enforcement
were going door to door in the evacuation area warning residents to leave because not everyone in the area has a phone. After 4 p.m. crews closed Moon Rocks and Felton Empire. At least two residents on Martin Road reported not being able to leave their homes.

Stephanie Jessen, who has a house and a business on Ice Cream Grade and was preparing to evacuate, said her home was just one house upwind of the blaze. She said the fire was burning in the 500 wooded acres between Ice Cream Grade and the 800 block of Martin Road.

The call initially came in for a small fire but the blaze grew quickly, Jessen said.

"It jumped from 2 acres to 15 acres in about two minutes," she said.

Winds on the highest ridgetops are expected to blow north and northeast at 10 to 20 mph through the night, said Dan Gudgel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey. By comparison, ridgetop winds were blowing in excess of 50 mph when last month's Summit Fire started, he said.

Humidity levels are relatively low and the air is not moistening up during the night, Gudgel said.

Gary Meeham, who owns Bonny Doon Farm, said about 4:10 p.m. that "the smoke is going over us and it's pretty intense. It's coming in our direction."

Meeham said he's got fire hoses out and ready to fight the fire if it comes toward him. He has two 1.5-inch hoses for each of the seven buildings on his property.

Meeham, who lives one-quarter mile off the 600 block of Martin Road, said "I'm going to guard my property as long as they let me. I'll send my wife and my pets out first, but we drive toward the fire to get out."

By 4:20 p.m. Meeham declined to leave when prompted by firefighters.

David Jessen who lives in the 800 block of Martin Road said "this isn't a good time, the hill is on fire."

Air tankers were also ordered and were overhead to attack the fire just after 4 p.m. A helicopter was overhead by just before 5 p.m.

Cal Fire crews reported spot fires on both sides of the 800 block of Martin Road. One firefighter said, "We already know. Spot fires are not a good sign for what's to come."

People are being evacuated to the Catholic Church in Bonny Doon, and the Red Cross is setting up a shelter at San Lorenzo Valley Middle School, where about 20 evacuees have gathered.

Road closures are Alba at Empire Grade; Empire Grade at Smith; Felton Empire at Ashley and Smith at Bonny Doon.


KisforCalligraphy said...

Becca. LuLu, and hubby! I am thinking only good thoughts for you and meowing for you Lulu!!!! Please let me know if you need anything from me!!! go away fires go away!!!!!
xo, Katy

ragqueen said...

Good Luck to you and your family. What a scary thing to go through


Anonymous said...

we're sending lots of love to you all; may you all be safe and home again soon...

keep us posted!

ml, g