Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 10:57 UK

Thousands flee California fires


Aerial footage of the wildfires in the Santa Cruz mountains

Thousands of firefighters in California are battling fast-spreading blazes that are threatening homes and livelihoods.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for two communities in the Santa Cruz mountains of northern California, and 2,400 people had to leave their homes.

Further south, 1,600 firefighters were tackling a blaze covering 56 square miles in northern Santa Barbara county.

Other smaller fires were reported around the state, as winds fanned flames through tinder-dry bush land.

Even if the vines don't get burned, there's a smoke taint aspect. A big fire could hurt us either way
Rachel Beauregard
Beauregard Vineyards

Nearly 700 firefighters were tackling the blaze in the Santa Cruz mountains as it threatened more than 1,000 homes.

The 2,000-strong population of Bonny Doon, about 50 miles (80km) south-east of San Francisco, and the 400 residents of nearby Swanton were ordered to leave their homes on Thursday.

'Significant fire'

The blaze, known as the Lockheed Fire because of its proximity to the Lockheed Martin Space Systems campus, started on Wednesday evening and has scorched some 2,800 acres.

Map locator

"It is a significant fire that is burning in a rural, inaccessible, steep terrain with vegetation that has been stressed by the drought," said CalFire spokeswoman Julie Hutchinson.

"It is like having firewood in your fireplace that is dry and ready to burn."

But it is not just homes that are under threat. Farms and vineyards are also in the area.

"We're really nervous now," said Rachel Beauregard, who co-owns a vineyard near Bonny Doon, which is preparing for the harvest.

"Even if the vines don't get burned, there's a smoke taint aspect. A big fire could hurt us either way."

Despite the 1,600 firefighters tackling the La Brea fire in northern Santa Barbara county, the blaze was only 10% contained by Thursday morning.

Nearly 200 homes and ranches had been evacuated, but the fire has spread to nearly 26,000 acres of remote national park forest land.

Are you in the area? Have you been affected? Send us your comments using the form below:

i>Send your pictures and video to or text them to +44 7725 100 100. If you have a large file you can upload here.

Read the terms and conditions

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

A selection of your comments may be published, displaying your name and location unless you state otherwise in the box below.

Your E-mail address
Town & Country
Phone number (optional):

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

Print Sponsor

LA bush fire closes Getty Museum
09 Jul 09 |  Americas
California lifts fire evacuations
09 May 09 |  Americas
California fire destroys 12 homes
28 Jul 08 |  Americas

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific