Buildings on Bridge Street were evacuated, a section of Main Street was sealed off, and helicopter rotors whirred overhead as firefighters attacked a fire that started in brush and trees early Tuesday afternoon in Cambria’s East Village.
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The fire was reported shortly after 1 p.m. in some eucalyptus trees and grew to 3 acres before its progress was halted about 2½ hours later.
Evacuations for Main and Bridge streets were ordered about an hour after the fire started. Residents on Wall Street and those in the area of the Santa Rosa Cemetery were also evacuated. The Sheriff’s Office also made reverse 911 calls to properties in those areas.
At 5:25 p.m., a second reverse 911 call announced that “all evacuations in the Cambria area have been lifted.”
Jason Buhl, water systems supervisor for Cambria’s services district, said firefighters were pulling 1,200 gallons of water a minute to fight the blaze as of about 3:45 p.m.
Flames could be seen in eucalyptus trees on the property where the fire was burning, across the street from The Cambrian’s offices, Goldsmith’s and the Redwood Center on Main.
White and gray smoke curled into the air, and helicopters and aircraft made repeated runs overhead. Main Street was closed between Burton Drive and the 1800 block of Main.
“Somebody was working on a tractor and somehow, the fire sparked when he was working on the tractor here,” Buhl said. “He tried a fire extinguisher, and it just got of control real quick.”
Buhl said the tractor operator did not live on the property but was a relative of the owner.
He said he was told that the fire “was pretty darn close to some of those homes on Bridge Street. They evacuated all of Bridge Street.”
Jerry Gruber, Cambria Community Services District general manager, wrote in an email that 70 firefighters had responded.
Rebecca Byars, who was visiting from the Bay Area, was having lunch with her aunt at Indigo Moon on Main Street when the fire broke out.
“We came out from lunch at Indigo Moon. We were only there for an hour, and the fire was full force,” she said. “The fire team descended on it, everything happened at once, and it was really intense. They lowered the bucket and started dropping the retardant. It was really something.”
Dianne Tappey of Lodge Hill reported on Facebook that helicopters were loading up with water from the cove on Marine Terrace.
Meanwhile, Cambria resident Ramona Voge posted on Facebook of “scary times in Cambria.”
“By the time I saw it, it was moving quickly up into the hills, right across the street from French Corner Bakery,” she said of the fire. “Three of us were painting scarecrows in Tin City when we heard the air-droppers run on by,” she said. “I cleaned up my brushes, rushed to my car, and found fire retardant all over my car.”
Other reports said Linn’s Easy as Pie restaurant and the Greenspace offices were hit with fire retardant.
Gabby Ferreira and Kathe Tanner contributed reporting for this story.