Multiple Fires Spark In Santa Cruz County, Prompting Evacuations

Jan 19, 2021

Firefighters responded to multiple fires in Santa Cruz County Tuesday after high winds amid dry conditions. Two of the fires prompted evacuations. Those orders were lifted Wednesday.

This article is no longer being updated as of Wednesday, January 20 at 3:30 p.m.

UPDATE Wednesday 1/20/21 2:30 PM: According to Cal Fire, most if not all of the 18 fires that broke out in Santa Cruz County on Tuesday should be contained by this evening. The fires broke out after high winds and dry conditions. 

No homes were lost and evacuation orders have been lifted for the Freedom Fire and Panther Ridge Fire. 

 

UPDATE Wednesday 1/20/21 9:15 AM: Firefighters worked throughout Tuesday night increasing control lines.

The Freedom Fire at Freedom Boulevard and Hames Road in Aptos Hills/Larkin Valley is 47 acres and 50% contained. 

The Panther Ridge Fire at Stapp Road and Highway 9, north of Boulder Creek, is 25 acres and 70% contained. 

The China Grade Fire at China Grade Road and Foxglove Lane, northwest of Boulder Creek, is 20 acres and 95% contained. 

Click here for a map of all of the fires Cal Fire has been responding to.

 

UPDATE Tuesday 1/19/21 6:50 PM: Cal Fire responded to 18 fires that broke out overnight Monday into Tuesday. Most of the fires are out, but some are still burning.

Helpful links to stay-up-date:

UPDATE Tuesday 1/19/21 4:55 PM: The Fanning Fire has burned just over 18 acres of timber on Fanning Grade Road in Ben Lomond, according to Cal Fire. The fire is 95% contained. 

UPDATE Tuesday 1/19/21 3:40 PM: The Freedom Fire on Freedom Rd in the Aptos Hills/Larkin Valley area has increased to 40 acres and is 20% contained, according to Cal Fire. About 100 homes were evacuated. 

The Panther Ridge Fire on Staph Road in Boulder Creek is now 10 to 12 acres and 55% contained. About 20 homes were evacuated.

 

UPDATE Tuesday 1/19/21 2:45 PM: According to Cal Fire, the Freedom Fire is just over 16 acres and 0% contained. About 100 homes were evacuated. 

The Panther Ridge Fire is 15 acres and 30% contained. About 20 homes were evacuated.

The Red Cross and Santa Cruz County have established a temporary evacuation center at Corralitos Community Church located at 26 Browns Valley Rd, Corralitos.

UPDATE Tuesday 1/19/21 1:20 PM: According to Santa Cruz County Spokesperson Jason Hoppin, no more than 80 residents have been evacuated due to the fires.

About 60 people in the area of White Rd near Freedom Blvd in Aptos Hills/Larkin Valley have been evacuated for the Freedom Fire. About 20 people in the Panther Ridge area of Boulder Creek have been evacuated for the Panther Fire.

 

Both of these fires are slow moving. 

 

Multiple fires broke out Monday night. The rest of the fires are not threatening homes at this time.

 

UPDATE Tuesday 1/19/21  12:30 PM: Cal Fire provided more details about 3 active fires in Santa Cruz County. These fires now have names.

Freedom Fire - Located on Freedom Road in Aptos Hills/Larkin Valley (north of Watsonville)

  • ​​Reported at 8am Tuesday, Jan. 19  
  • 5 acres
  • Burning in timber
  • 0% contained
  • Evacuations underway for residents on Nunes Rd, Halton Lane, Willow Heights and Gillette Rd

Panther Ridge Fire - Located on Staph Road in Boulder Creek (east of Highway 9)

  • 5 acres
  • 0% contained
  • Evacuations underway for residents on Panther Ridge

Fanning Fire - Located on Fanning Grade Road in Ben Lomond (west of Highway 9)

  • 14 acres
  • Burning in timber
  • 30% contained

Tuesday 1/19/21 11:15 AM: According to Santa Cruz County Spokesperson Jason Hoppin, the two fires of concern are located in the Boulder Creek area and Larkin Valley.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Hoppin said about 1,100 people have been ordered to evacuate near Panther Rd in Boulder Creek and about 150 have been ordered to evacuate on Nunes Rd and Gillette in Larkin Valley. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office said via Twitter, Willow Heights is also being evacuated. 

KAZU connected with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office by phone. They recommended people follow their social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter for the most up-to-date information. 

After a night of high winds amid dry conditions, Cal Fire CZU, which is the Santa Cruz County and San Mateo County unit, said they were responding to at least seven fires. 

“It’s all hands on deck right now,” said Cecil Juliette with Cal Fire CZU. “We did bring in a strike team from San Luis Obispo last night in preparation for today’s wind event.”

According to the National Weather Service, strong, gusty winds are expected to continue throughout Tuesday but are expected to level off in the evening 

This is a developing story.