Cal Fire says prescribed burn caused rapidly-spreading Estrada Fire

A rapidly-spreading wildfire that forced evacuations near Morgan Hill Friday evening is the result of a prescribed burn, Cal Fire officials say. 

The fire was first reported at around 2:40 p.m. The Cal Fire San Mateo - Santa Cruz Unit (CZU) reported around 4:29 p.m. that the fire was burning between Watsonville and Morgan Hill above Hazel Del Road. By 8 p.m., in the span of two hours, the Estrada Fire grew from 40 acres to 150 acres. 

The fire remains 0% contained. Cal Fire-CZU said at 8:40 the fire was surrounded by retardant and had died down. 

Fire crews first began evacuating the Pajaro area and placed the Summit area under an evacuation warning. Just before 10 p.m. Sant Cruz County officials posted to social media that no further evacuations were expected and that current evacuations will stay in place through the night.

Red Cross established an evacuation center at Corralitos Community Church for residents who were told to leave their homes. Officials said the community center would close at 10 p.m. due to light use. 

SkyFOX flew above the scene and captured images of plumes of smoke seen as far out as Santa Cruz. 

Cal Fire said the incident was part of the Estrada Ranch prescribed fire in the area. As fire crews responded, Tomkat Ranch in Pescadero tweeted that a prescribed burn scheduled there for this Sunday or Monday, has been canceled until further notice. 

Crews will remain at the scene throughout the night to strengthen direct control lines, officials said.