Loma fire chars more than 4,000 acres

A wildfire burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains in southeastern Santa Clara County since Monday afternoon has grown to more than 4,000 acres, Cal Fire officials said Thursday.

The Loma Fire has charred through 4,147 acres and was 34 percent contained as of this evening, with full containment estimated by Monday, according to Cal Fire.

The vegetation fire, first reported around 2:45 p.m. Monday off of Loma Prieta and Loma Chiquita roads, has destroyed eight homes and nine other buildings, Cal Fire officials said.

Another structure was damaged and the fire is threatening 325 residences, according to Cal Fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Evacuation orders remain in place for Santa Clara County residents along the Loma Prieta ridgeline area, Cal Fire officials said.

Deputies in Santa Cruz County determined 53 homes needed to be cleared and spoke with residents at 26 of the properties while the others were found empty, sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Clark said.

Deputies estimate 15 people notified ahead of time left their residences, Clark said.

Initially, three evacuation centers were opened to help residents forced to leave their homes, but there is now just one at Morgan Hill Presbyterian Church at 19670 De Witt. Ave. in Morgan Hill.

There are 1,968 firefighters assigned to help extinguish the blaze that include personnel on 33 bulldozers, 15 helicopters and 16 water tenders, according to Cal Fire.

Crews have faced steep terrain that’s been hard to access in an area with brush and timber, which can contribute to the fire’s spread, Cal Fire officials said.

Closures are in effect on Loma Chiquita Road, Summit Road from Soquel San Jose Road to Pole Line Road, Mount Madonna Road at Ormsby Road and other streets, Cal Fire officials said.

Santa Clara County is experiencing moderate air quality, especially in the mountainous and southern areas, county public health officials said.

Public health officials recommend people who are unusually sensitive to limit their time outside. Children, older adults and people with respiratory problems should exercise more caution when they see or smell smoke by staying inside if possible, public health officials said.

People exposed to smoke can experience irritated lungs and eyes, coughing, scratchy throat and irritated sinuses, according to public health officials.

Those who have repeated coughs, chest tightness or pain, trouble breathing or nausea are advised to contact their medical provider, public health officials said.