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Fire chars 10 acres in Prunedale

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 6th, 2012

PRUNEDALE — A suspected shed fire in Prunedale triggered a 10-acre wild land fire Tuesday.

The 1:30 p.m. blaze prompted a huge response from North Monterey County Fire and surrounding agencies.

Fire Capt. John Hasslinger said the fire appeared to have started in or near a shed on Frish Street off of Prunedale Road North.

“We were suited up for a structure fire at first but this fire just suddenly took off and we were dealing with a large wild land fire,” Hasslinger said.

Monterey County Sheriff’s deputies were aided by the California Highway Patrol in shutting down roads and evacuating residents.

Homes and businesses on Frisch, Countryside, Hardie and Prunedale Streets were asked to evacuate as a towering column of brown smoke wafted skyward.

The fire coincided with an unrelated 1,000-acre control burn near San Juan Bautista off of Old Stage Road and Crazy Horse Canyon Road, which sent up a massive plume of smoke clearly visible from Watsonville and Santa Cruz.

By 4:30 p.m. firefighters were still on the scene of the Prunedale fire in mop up mode.

Three vehicles and three boats were destroyed by the fire at the property where the shed burned.

Some residents could be seen hastily stuffing belongings into their vehicles while others collected their pets and headed for safety.

“It seemed like someone lit off a bomb,” said Richard Soliz, who was walking four small dogs away from the blaze. “Those flames were gigantic.”

A polling station at the Prunedale Grange on Moro Road had to be relocated because of the fire.

Several Cal Fire air tankers and a helicopter eventually arrived and took turns dumping water and fire retardant into the flames.

The fire appeared to be most intense in stands of tall eucalyptus trees. Flames could be seen climbing high into the trees eating away at the papery bark. In other areas large patches of dry grass sizzled as flames swept through. Some residents chased down hot spots near their homes with garden hoses. Others, armed with shovels and rakes, tossed powdery soil onto the flames, in some places just yards from their homes and fences.

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