Wildfire near Morgan Hill still threatens 300 homes

The Associated Press
Sunday September 29, 2002

MORGAN HILL — Foggy, cooler weather helped hundreds of firefighters grapple with a 3,142-acre blaze roaring through rural neighborhoods along the Santa Cruz Mountains and threatening at least 300 homes. 

However, by midday Friday increasing winds with gusts of up to 10 mph were causing some concern on the fire lines. The most active section of the fire Friday was in the southeast section along Redwood Retreat Road. 

Fire officials call the Croy Fire, which has raced through tinder-dry brush and trees since it began Monday, one of the area’s largest wildfires in decades. 

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials believe the fire originated inside a trailer home along the eastern side of the mountains. The rural area is known to law enforcement officials as a frequent dumping ground for the remains of methamphetamine labs, but Mike VanWinkle of the Bureau of Narcotics said it’s unclear if a meth lab had anything to do with the blaze. 

Agents from the Bureau of Narcotics were investigating. 

“They are very good at analyzing chemical compounds and determining whom may have been in those buildings. (At this time) it is inconclusive as to the presence of chemicals indicative of a meth lab,” he said. 

More than 2,100 personnel from around the state battled towering flames that climbed oak and redwood trees. 

It was 60 percent contained Friday and had cost $3.2 million to fight, said Ruth Ferziger, a California Department of Forestry spokeswoman. Full containment was expected by Sunday evening.