1 southbound lane of Hwy 17 remains closed after fire
LOS GATOS, Calif. (KTVU) - A southbound lane of Highway 17 near Los Gatos heading to Santa Cruz is still closed Tuesday, after a car fire quickly spread into nearby brush threatening 20 to 30 homes. Just after 8 p.m. CHP opened up one lane of the highway north of Redwood Estates where the fire happened. The second lane is expected to remain closed until Tuesday evening. Authorities say it may reopen as late as 10 p.m.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries including a burn to the nose and another firefighter complained of weakness.
An estimated 2.5 acres of brush and vegetation caught fire, sparked initially by a car fire.
"We are also concerned because the drought stricken trees have a potential of falling trees so we are being really careful with the firefighters," said Cal Fire Division Chief Jim Crawford.
The call came in at 3 p.m. 200 firefighters responded. At one point, both directions of the highway were shut down severely impacting the evening commute. Cal Fire said the low humidity, the continued drought and temperatures in the mid 90s posed challenges.
"The heat for us affects production," said Crawford. "For firefighters, the production goes down when the heat goes up because we can only work as humanely possible with that heat."
The weather prompted cities to open cooling centers. At the Campbell Community Center, at least one person took advantage of the free air conditioning.
"There are many people in the community who don't have a place to cool down that's free, and this place provides a free place for people to come in and get out of the heat, enjoy some air conditioning and relax," said City of Campbell Recreation Director Regina Maurantonio.
Other people took a dip in the community center pool. At John D. Morgam Park in Campell, there was some disappointment since the water play area was closed for repairs. Familes took refuge under trees.
"There's not any wind so it's been really hot for the kids to be outside playing for any length of time," said Traci Fenimore of San Jose. "It feels really warm."
Kids at the park opted for the next best thing, soaking up the water fountains. Many of them are hoping the rising temperatures won't last too much longer.
"As long as there's a few days of it, that's okay," said Kathy Mastrini of Campbell. "As long as it comes down. 80s are better."