Firefighters make progress against Santa Cruz fire

The Lockheed Fire in California, which has burned almost 7,000 acres, was 50 percent contained as of Sunday morning. Two factors: relatively cool temperatures and calm winds.

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

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    Gov. Schwarzenegger holds a press conference after he was briefed on the status of the Lockheed Fire and the firefighting efforts statewide at the Lockheed Fire Incident Command Post at the Watsonville Fairgrounds in Watsonville, Calif., on Saturday.
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    A firefighter battles the Lockheed Fire as it threatens to jump a road in unincorporated Santa Cruz County, Calif., on Friday.
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When can we go home?

That's what evacuated residents wanted to know Sunday as firefighters made progress against a blaze in Santa Cruz County, California.

The so-called Lockheed Fire, which has burned almost 7,000 acres since last Wednesday, was 50 percent contained as of Sunday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. About 250 homes are still threatened by the blaze, it says.

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But relatively cool temperatures and calm winds have meant progress, the San Francisco Chronicle said, citing unnamed officials.

"Things are looking pretty good. The fire didn't grow at all overnight," the Chronicle quoted Leon Orsi, a state firefighter, as saying. "We have all of our resources in place, lines cut, and things figured out. Now we just have to carry out the process."

In Santa Cruz on Sunday morning, firefighters met with about 40 residents who had evacuated their homes, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. The good news: No homes have been lost.

"There may be some old cabins in there that may have been damaged that we didn't know about, but no homes have been damaged or destroyed," said Julie Hutchinson, information officer for Cal Fire, at the meeting.

However, the central blaze has ignited several spot fires, including a 10-acre one Saturday, Ms. Hutchinson noted. Also, the weather could become a factor again, along with steep terrain and limited access to the fire's perimeter, according to Cal Fire.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the area Saturday, and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi declared a state of emergency for Santa Cruz County on Friday.

Beyond the Lockheed Fire, at least 10 others are burning in California. More than 6,800 firefighters are battling the blazes, Governor Schwarzenegger said Saturday, as reported by NBC Bay Area/Associated Press. This number includes more than 2,000 fire personnel for the Lockheed Fire.

Across the state, 68 helicopters, 711 fire engines, and 46 fixed-winged aircraft would also be deployed, Governor Schwarzenegger said in the NBC Bay Area/AP report.

"My administration is doing all we can to ensure the state has the emergency response resources in place to respond quickly to the Lockheed Fire and to fires that continue to burn throughout the state," he said.

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