Cal Fire: Highway 9 fires originated from illegal campsites

Firefighters injured in Rincon Fire near Santa Cruz

PARADISE PARK, Calif. - UPDATE: 11/9/2018 12:08 p.m. Cal Fire investigators determined that three fires burning in Santa Cruz County originated from illegal campsites. 

The Rincon fire started on Nov. 3 around 9:30 p.m. near Highway 9. It burned at least 17 acres and caused several people to evacuate the Paradise Park area. 

The three fires burned 21 acres in total and injured four firefighters. 

In Sept., Cal Fire banned all burning in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties. 

"This is due to the extreme menace of destruction by fire to life, property, and natural resources caused by ongoing critical fire weather and acute dryness of vegetation," said Chief Gonzalez. 

Fire officials said all campfires, open fire pits, open pit cooking, warming fires, and ceremonial burns are not allowed. 

If anyone sees flames Cal Fire San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit urges the public to call 911. 


PREVIOUS STORY: 11/7/2018 11:07 a.m. - Cal Fire reported that three first responders were injured battling the Rincon Fire, just outside Santa Cruz. 

The latest numbers have the fire at 90 percent containment. It has burned 17 acres, and forward progress has been stopped. 

The fire ignited on Nov. 3 around 9:30 p.m. near Highway 9 north of Paradise Park. 

There was an evacuation advisory for the northern part of Paradise Park, which is just off Highway 9. Highway 9 was closed between Golf Club Drive, in Santa Cruz, and Glengarry Road, in Felton. All evacuations have since been lifted. 

Cal Fire reports no structures were damaged, destroyed or threatened. 

Hundreds of firefighters braved the climb down a steep hill to contain the flames and save homes in the fire's path. 

Cal Fire public information officer, Manuel Garcia said, “this area is very steep topography this fire is literally in the backyards of homes. We have a lot of falling trees, rolling material rolling down hills which is a concern to fire personal.”

One firefighter suffered an ankle injury, another a shoulder injury and the third unknown, but minor injury.

"The fire is right behind a lot of homes there, so that's scary," said Paradise Park Masonic Club resident Tami Grove. 

Grove was able to stay in her home during Saturday night's evacuations, but many of her neighbors were not as lucky. 

"Living in California, it's just become such a new normal to have wildfires like this," Grove said. 

"Our priority is to get people back into their homes just as quickly as we can," said Cal Fire Santa Clara Unit Chief Tim Main.

As for the cause, Cal Fire says it is still under investigation.

"We didn't find any of the normal causes that we find. it is in an area considerably below the road with not a normal ignition source that we can see," Main said. 

"We're a tight knit community. We'll be fine. Everybody helps each other, here," Grove said. 



11/4/2018 1:08 p.m. University of California Santa Cruz has issued a statement Sunday in response to a fire burning nearby.

They say campus police are monitoring the situation and that crews may use campus roads.

There is currently no threat to the university.

The Rincon Fire is burning at Paradise Park just north of campus. It's currently contained and at 5 acres, but it is expected to burn for several days.

Road closures are still in place along Highway 9.

Anyone with respiratory issues is asked to take precautions.

This is the full statement from UCSC Chief Nader Oweis:

"The UC Santa Cruz Police Department is closely monitoring a wildland fire near Highway 9, north of Paradise Park. Although there is heavy smoke on campus as a result of the fire, which started Saturday evening and is burning in heavy timber between the highway and the San Lorenzo River, there is no threat to UC Santa Cruz at this time.

There are several fire crews on the ground, as well as helicopters and planes being used to drop fire retardant on the roughly 5-acre blaze. Some of the aircraft are flying over campus to access the fire. Some crews may also use campus fire roads to access the fire.

The Paradise Park neighborhood, along with adjoining neighborhoods, are being evacuated as a precaution.

Those with respiratory issues are advised to take precautions, as heavy smoke is blanketing the area.

We will continue to work with the fire department and local law enforcement agencies until the fire is contained. 

Thank you for your patience."


PREVIOUS STORY: Cal Fire reports that a fire started Saturday night near Paradise Park in Santa Cruz County.

It started as a half acre vegetation fire and grew to 8 acres. Cal Fire calls it the Rincon Fire.

As of 9 a.m. it was still burning, but it is contained.

They expect it will continue burning for a few days.

There was an evacuation advisory for the north part of Paradise Park overnight.

Highway 9 is closed between Paradise Point and Felton.

The current perimeter is 6 acres, but Cal Fire expects there will continue to be smoke and ash in the air.

There was no property loss and no injuries reported.

5 engines, 4 hand crews and a helicopter responded to the fire.

This is a developing story.

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