SANTA CRUZ, Calif. A wind-whipped wildfire burning out of control in central California mountains destroyed buildings and threatened several rural homes Thursday morning, closing schools and prompting some evacuations.
The blaze in the Santa Cruz Mountains, first reported around 5:30 a.m., had grown to more than 2,000 acres by late morning and was completely uncontained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The fire is in the mountain range that separates Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties, and the 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."
Five structures were destroyed by the flames, and at least three schools in the area closed their doors Thursday because of the fire. No injuries have been reported.
About 200 firefighters were on the scene and hundreds more were on the way. Four tanker planes were dropping fire retardant and four helicopters were dousing the area with water.
Heavy brush and timber and winds gusting up to 40 mph were complicating efforts to fight the blaze, officials said.
"The fuels are very heavy and dry from a pretty mild winter. With that wind added in as a factor, it's a pretty good recipe for fire," said Battalion Chief Mike Marcucci.
In Florida, a wildfire forced the evacuation of dozens of homes in the Deerhaven area north of Orlando. The blaze started Wednesday and has scorched more than 1,000 acres. It was 20 percent contained Thursday. The cause is not yet known.