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Evacuation orders lifted for two Santa Cruz County fires

nunes freedom fire chp santa cruz
CHP Santa Cruz
A look at the Freedom Fire burning near Nunes Road. Photo date: 1/19/2021

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION)

UPDATE 1/20/2021 1:20 p.m. Cal Fire CZU announced that all evacuation orders have been lifted for the Freedom and Panther Ridge Fires.

The agency reports that no homes were lost and no injuries were reported.

Cal Fire said they responded to more than 18 vegetation fires within 18 hours, but crews were able to grow containment lines last night.

The agency believes that most of the fires will be contained by this evening. They have burned about 100 acres in Santa Cruz County.

UPDATE 1/20/2021 9:45 a.m. These are the updates for the fires burning in Santa Cruz County:

  • China Grade Fire- 20 acres and 95% contained.
  • Freedom Fire- 37 acres and 50% contained.
  • Panther Ridge Fire- 25 acres and 70% contained.
  • Bloom Fire- Near Little Basin Road and Upper Bloom Grade Road. 8 acres and 50% contained.

UPDATE 1/19/2021 3:30 p.m. These are the updates for the fires burning in Santa Cruz County:

  • China Grade Fire- The fire burning near China Grade Road and Foxglove Lane is 20 acres and 100% contained, according to Cal Fire.
  • Freedom Fire: The fire is 40 acres and 20% contained, according to Cal Fire. About 100 homes have been evacuated.
  • Panther Ridge Fire- The fire is about 10 to 12 acres and 55% contained. About 20 homes have been evacuated.
  • Fanning Fire- The fire has burned 18.81 acres on Fanning Grade Road and is 95% contained.
  • Empire Fire- The fire on Alba Road at Empire Grade is about 6 acres and 0% contained. Cal Fire said no structures are currently threatened.

UPDATE 1/19/2021 2 p.m. These are the updates for the fires burning in Santa Cruz County:

  • Panther Ridge Fire- The fire on Stapp Road is 15 acres and 30% contained, according to Cal Fire. About 20 homes were evacuated.
  • Freedom Fire- The fire has grown to 16.25 acres with no containment. About 100 homes have been evacuated.
  • China Grade Fire- This fire is burning near Chine Grade Road and Foxglove Lane. It is about 20 acres and 50% contained, according to Cal Fire. There are no evacuations.

The agency said it responded to 13 vegetation fires overnight. Some of them have already contained, but six fires are currently burning. Two are in the CZU Lightning Complex burn area.

UPDATE 1/19/2021 12 p.m. These are the updates for the fires burning in Santa Cruz County:

  • Panther Fire: This fire is located on Stapp Road west of Highway 9. Cal Fire said it is 7 to 8 acres, and isolated evacuations have been issued for residents on Panther Ridge.
  • Fanning Fire- The fire on Fanning Grade Road in Ben Lomond is 14.6 acres, according to Cal Fire, and 30% contained. There are currently no evacuations.
  • Bonny Complex- Cal Fire said the complex is made up of two vegetation fires that have been contained and controlled. They burned about 4 acres, and there were no evacuations.
  • Freedom Fire- Residents on Nunes Road, Halton Lane, Willow Heights and Gillette Road have been evacuated. Cal Fire said it is 4 to 5 acres and holding.

KION's Elisha Machado will have a live report with the latest on the fires tonight at 5 and 6 p.m.

UPDATE 1/19/2021 11:35 a.m. These are the current evacuations in Santa Cruz County:

  • Freedom Fire- This fire is on Freedom Road north of Watsonville. Cal Fire said it was reported at 8 a.m. and has burned 4 to 5 acres since then, but crews are gaining containment. Evacuations have been ordered for Nunes Road, Gillette Road, Willow Heights, Ben's Way and Halton Road.
  • Panther Ridge Fire- This fire is located on Stapp Road west of Highway 9. It is 5 acres with no containment, according to Cal Fire. An evacuation warning has been issued in the area around Stapp Road and Panther Ridge.

Cal Fire said it is not issuing any additional evacuation orders for the Freedom Fire at this time.

UPDATE 1/19/2021 11:24 a.m. Cal Fire CZU released a list of current fires burning in Santa Cruz County.

  • Freedom Fire- This fire is on Freedom Road north of Watsonville. Cal Fire said it was reported at 8 a.m. and has burned 5 acres since then. It is 0% contained, and evacuations have been ordered for Nunes Road, Gillette Road and Willow Heights.
  • Panther Ridge Fire- This fire is located on Staph Road west of Highway 9. It is 5 acres with no containment, according to Cal Fire. An evacuation warning has been issued in the area.
  • Empire Fire- The Empire Fire is on Alba Road at Empire Grade. Cal Fire said it is 6 acres with no containment, but there is no threat to structures and no evacuations.
  • North Butano Fire- This fire is located in San Mateo County. It is 10 acres with no containment.
  • Fanning Fire- The fire is located on Fanning Grade Road west of Highway 9. It is 14 acres and 30% contained.

Cal Fire said they responded to more fires overnight, but most of them have been contained or controlled. There are other small fires burning in the agency's coverage area, but it said the ones listed above are the top priorities.

UPDATE 1/9/2021 11:06 a.m. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said an evacuation warning has been issued for the area around Staph and Panther Ridge in Boulder Creek.

There is a 7 to 8 acre fire burning in the area.

Evacuations are underway for Nunes Road, Gillette Road and Willow Heights in the southern part of the county for a different fire.

UPDATE 1/19/2021 10:40 a.m. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office says evacuations are ordered for Nunes Road, Gillette Road and Willow Heights due to a fire near Nunes Road.

The California Highway Patrol said White Road at Freedom and Larkin Valley is closed due to the fire.

PREVIOUS STORY: Cal Fire said two new fires have been reported in Santa Cruz County, and evacuations are underway.

The fires are located off Freedom Boulevard in Watsonville and in the Boulder Creek area off Highway 9.

Cal Fire CZU has not yet released the exact locations of the evacuations.

Fires have also been reported in these areas:

  • Empire Grade Road near Alba Road- 5 acres, no containment
  • Fanning Grade- 2-3 acres, no containment
  • Prescott Road in Soquel- contained at 1.2 acres
  • North Butano- 5 acres
  • Johansen Trail- 2 fires, 1/4 acre and 1/8 acre

Cal Fire CZU said the fires within the CZU Lightning Complex burn scar have been difficult to reach due to downed trees.

This is a developing story. Keep checking back for updates.

Santa Cruz County / Top Stories / Wildfires

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

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