Aromas blaze prompts evacuations

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anzar fire aromas
A jet air tanker dumps a load of retardant over a fast-moving fire off of Anzar Road in Aromas Thursday afternoon. Photo: Tarmo Hannula

UPDATE:

The fire has charred more than 100 acres and is 25% contained, Cal Fire announced Friday morning.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

A large wildland fire opened up in Aromas Thursday afternoon prompting a strong response by Cal Fire, Aromas Tri-County Fire and other agencies who attacked the blaze from the ground and sky.

Pumped by winds and dry summer conditions, the fire, which ate through rugged forests and brush in western San Benito County, went from five acres at 3:30pm to over 100 acres by 4:30pm.

Cal Fire propellor and jet air tankers took turns with helicopters, dumping water and fire retardant onto the flames that, at times veered toward several ridgetop homes. 

By 4pm evacuations along Anzar Road and surrounding surface roads were underway, according to police radio traffic.

The fire, which actually turned out to be a string of fires side by side, broke out behind the AR Wilson Quarry, better known as the Graniterock Quarry, in Aromas. 

A huge column of brown, yellow and white smoke dominated the sky east of Aromas. It was initially reported that downed power lines triggered the quarry blaze. 

This article will be updated.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.

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