Santa Cruz County

Two wildfires reported at UC Santa Cruz campus this week

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - UC Santa Cruz police say a wildfire was reported early Wednesday morning near north campus.

Police Chief Nader Oweis says the fire was reported at daybreak on State Park lands near Chinquapin and Empire Grade roads outside the boundaries of north campus, moving toward Highway 9.

There appear to have been multiple fires of suspicious origin. Cal Fire and Santa Cruz  fire crews responded, Oweis said.

This is the second wildfire on or near campus in four days.

"The threat of fire on our campus is serious and potentially devastating; current dry conditions have created an explosive environment," said Oweis.

On Aug. 9, Oweis said an illegal camp fire near the north remote parking lot on the campus was not extinguished properly and spread out of control.

Campus police say white smoke in the area and the ensuing investigation determined the cause was an unlawful and abandoned campfire.

Firefighters from the City of Santa Cruz Fire Department, Cal Fire, and City of Scotts Valley Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire, which had grown to one-half acre. Eleven engines and 40 firefighters responded.

"Unfortunately we have experienced a rash of illegal campfires this past year at UC Santa Cruz," said Oweis.  "Many sites are found abandoned and still burning long after the departure of individuals engaged in this dangerous activity."

He reminds people that campfires -- and any open burning -- are illegal and prosecutable.

Anyone with information about this crime is encouraged to call the UC Santa Cruz Police Department at 459-2231.

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