Evacuation orders lifted for Loma fire victims

Evacuation orders were lifted Wednesday¬†afternoon for Santa Cruz County residents who were told to leave their homes threatened by a nearly 3,000-acre wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains, sheriff’s officials said.

The Loma Fire that began around 2:45 p.m. Monday near Loma Prieta and Loma Chiquita roads in southern Santa Clara County has burned through 2,865 acres and was 22 percent contained as of this evening, Cal Fire officials said.

The blaze is burning in an area northwest of Morgan Hill near the border between Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

All evacuation orders and warnings have been lifted for affected residents in Santa Cruz County, according to Cal Fire.

Drivers will have limited access on the Santa Cruz County roads due to numerous emergency vehicles in the area and are advised to limit their travel, sheriff’s officials said.

Evacuation orders remain in place for residents on the Loma Prieta ridgeline in an area covering many thoroughfares including Summit Road, Uvas Canyon County Park, Loma Prieta Way and Mount Bache Road, according to Cal Fire.

Evacuees can seek assistance through centers set up in collaboration with the American Red Cross at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds at 2601 East Lake Ave. in Watsonville, where people can bring their large animals; Jewish Community Center of Silicon Valley at 14855 Oka Road in Los Gatos and Morgan Hill Presbyterian Church at 16970 De Witt Ave. in Morgan Hill.

Southeasterly winds have sent smoke from the fire into Santa Clara County and the Bay Area that has affected air quality, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Air quality district officials recommend the public limit their time outdoors, close windows and doors while indoors and prevent outside air from entering by changing settings on their air conditioning units and car ventilation systems to recirculate air.

Smoke exposure can lead to irritated eyes, coughing, scratchy throat and inflamed sinuses, district officials said.

Increased smoke is expected to spread through the county in the coming days and week, according to Santa Clara County public health officials.

Older adults, children and people with respiratory issues are advised to limit their time outdoors when they see or smell smoke, public health officials said.

Santa Cruz County public health officials are also keeping an eye on the air quality.

Anyone experiencing repeated coughing, tightness or pain in their chest, wheezing, difficulty breathing or nausea should contact their medical provider, public health officials said.

There are 1,092 firefighters helping douse the fire that has destroyed one home and six outbuildings. Another residence was damaged and 325 structures remain threatened, Cal Fire officials said.

Crews are battling the fire in a dry, inaccessible area filled with “drought stressed fuels,” according to Cal Fire.

The blaze has also reached drainages at Mount Loma Prieta, Mount Chual and Uvas Creek, Cal Fire officials said.

Traffic has been blocked on multiple roadways including Loma Chiquita Road, Mount Madonna Road at Ormsby Road and Summit Road between Soquel San Jose Road and Pole Line Road, according to Cal Fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.