The university is nestled along the coast in Santa Cruz County, where the wildfires known as the C.Z.U. Lightning Complex have grown to more than 40,000 acres and destroyed at least 20 buildings.
In a tweet, the university said evacuation was voluntary, but it urged students and employees living on campus to prepare for a mandatory evacuation that could happen “at any moment.”
The school’s fall semester is not set to begin until Oct. 1.
When the fires started, about 1,200 people were living in university housing, including students, employees and their family members. As of Thursday evening, about 200 remained, according to Scott Hernandez-Jason, a university spokesman.
The university has set up an evacuation center for students and employees living on campus, and neighboring communities are already under a mandatory evacuation order. Nearly 28,000 people have been ordered to evacuate from the area, according to the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office.
Santa Cruz County asked visitors to leave to make room for evacuees in hotels.
Visitors and tourists staying in overnight accommodations like hotels or vacation rentals are being asked to leave Santa Cruz County to make room for fire evacuees.
“It’s not an order, we are just having issues with more than 20,000 people evacuated and this is likely going to get significantly larger today,” a spokesman for the Santa Cruz County Emergency Operations Center, Jason Hoppin, said. “So we need all the capacity we can get.”
The county is also requesting that no new visitors travel to the area.
“The environment here is not conducive to any kind of tourist activity,” Mr. Hoppin said. “The sky is thick with smoke, it’s yellow. I live 10 miles away from the fire and my deck is covered with ash.”