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Update: Aromas blaze prompts evacuations

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

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. 

As of 8:29am July 22, the fire was 25% contained and had burned 101 acres, according to CalFire’s website

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. Although the evacuation area around the fire was reduced by nighttime on Thursday, evacuation orders are still in effect for properties on Forest Road, School Road, Anzar Road and Harlands Way. 

The fire, which 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.