MORGAN HILL, Calif. (AP) — Some evacuations were lifted as cooler weather gave firefighters a boost in their struggle with a wildfire burning through dry brush that was threatening hundreds of structures Thursday in a remote area of California's Santa Cruz Mountains.
Mandatory evacuations were lifted Wednesday for Santa Cruz County, but orders remained in effect for neighboring Santa Clara County, where most of the 300 threatened structures are located, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
The wildfire in steep terrain south of San Jose had charred more than 6 square miles and was 22 percent contained by Thursday morning, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jeremy Rahn said.
The blaze broke out Monday during a statewide heat wave that brought witheringly low humidity and temperatures in the upper 90s. A 10-degree drop in temperatures and increased humidity helped fire crews. The cooling trend was expected to last through the week.
The blaze won't be fully contained before next week, officials estimated.
It was among several blazes burning during a time of year when the drought-stricken state sees its largest and most damaging wildfires, state forestry officials said.
The fire gutted at least one home and threatened more than 325 buildings, though it was not clear how many were homes or smaller structures.
The area is dotted with marijuana growing operations, though the number of plants at risk is unclear. When Anthony Lopez returned to check on his home, which was still under an evacuation order, he was overjoyed to find dozens of his marijuana plants intact Tuesday.
Though the vast majority of California's marijuana is planted north of San Francisco, growers still find remote, densely forested land popular places to cultivate pot.
This summer, firefighters in nearby Monterey County rescued several pot farmers trapped for three days by a fast-moving wildfire. The growers said 900 plants were destroyed. No arrests were made after police said the evidence went up in smoke.
North of San Francisco, officials said a grass fire that spread from the side of a highway into a row of homes in Petaluma may have been started by a discarded cigarette. Four homes were destroyed and 10 were damaged.
A five-county funeral procession will be held Sunday for a San Diego firefighter who died battling the Thomas Fire.
Gun owners were given the chance to trade in their unwanted firearms for cash or a skateboard at a gun buyback event hosted by local police and faith leaders on Saturday.
After 10 days of destruction, the Lilac Fire was 100 percent contained Saturday, fire officials announced.
A 32-year-old Cal Fire engineer from northern San Diego County was killed Thursday while fighting the massive Thomas Fire in Ventura County.
San Diego County's inland valleys and mountains remain under a red flag warning Friday morning due to high temperatures, dry air and gusty Santa Ana winds creating dangerous fire conditions.
A candlelight vigil was held Friday evening in El Cajon to remember the Granite Hills High School senior killed in a car crash on Monday.
Dozens of low income seniors in Rancho Penasquitos are now searching for a new to live after a controversial plan to raze their apartment complex moved forward on Friday.
Animal-welfare officials reached out to the public Friday for help identifying and locating whoever allowed a large friendly dog to starve nearly to death before being found wandering weakly through Logan Heights.