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Firefighters continue to battle blazes across California

Fire in Santa Cruz County is particularly challenging because the area hasn't burned in more than 60 years.

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Gusty and unpredictable winds continue to vex California firefighters trying to protect hundreds of homes from a raging wildfire in Santa Cruz County.

The fire that began Wednesday evening of unknown causes had grown from roughly 30 acres to 6,800 acres Saturday morning, according to state fire officials, making it the county's largest fire in 20 years.

So far no homes have been damaged, but more than 250 houses in the densely wooded hills and canyons of the Santa Cruz Mountains remain threatened. About 2,400 residents are under mandatory evacuation orders.

The 570 California firefighters working the Lockheed Fire , named for its proximity to Lockheed Martin Space Systems campus, have managed to contain 30 percent of the blaze but are being challenged by both the wind and rough terrain – the hills along the coast are thick with pine trees and brush making the fire difficult to access.

California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi declared a state of emergency for the county on Friday and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was out of state on Friday attending his mother-in-law Eunice Shriver's funeral, was scheduled to tour the areas of Swanton and Bonny Doon on Saturday.

California Assemblyman Bill Monning, whose district includes Santa Cruz County, said Saturday morning the fire line seemed to be holding.

"Each fire takes on its own personality," he says. "One thing that distinguished this Lockheed Fire is that this area hasn't burned for over 60 years. So it's burning really hot and spreading fast."


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