Wildfire causes evacuations in Calif.

May 22, 2008 8:42:51 AM PDT
A wind-whipped wildfire threatened several homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains on Thursday, forcing some evacuations. The blaze, first reported around 5:30 a.m., had grown to about 1,000 acres by midmorning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The flames sent a thick cloud of smoke into the air that could be seen miles away.

The fire is in the mountain range that separates Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties south of San Jose, and the rural area is dotted with homes.

At least 20 homes were threatened by the blaze, said Chris Morgan, a state fire prevention specialist.

"Our main priority is evacuations, getting people out safely," Morgan said. "Then we can start working the perimeter of the fire."

Firefighters were grappling with winds gusting up to 40 mph and heavy brush and timber, officials said.