CZU Lightning Complex fires now at 50,000 acres, zero percent contained

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The CZU August Lightning Complex fires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County had grown to 50,000 acres, and remained zero percent contained as of Friday morning, according to Cal Fire.

The number of residents evacuated jumped from about 48,000 people Thursday evening to over 64,000 Friday morning. Evacuation zones are highlighted in the above image. While officials have confirmed at least 50 structures have been destroyed, they say that number is likely to climb into the triple digits.

Over 1,000 fire personnel are responding and no injuries to civilians have been reported. Three first responders have suffered minor injuries, officials said.

Aerial attacks on the fire have been limited due to lack of visibility caused by smoke and fog conditions, officials said. A short-lived marine layer overnight somewhat helped to calm the fires along the coast, but that did not prevent their eastward march into Santa Cruz County, where the fires have impacted Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond and farther south and caused additional structural loss, officials said. The City of Scotts Valley, population 12,000, was in the midst of evacuations, Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said.

In San Mateo County, evacuation zones include “every town west of 35 all the way up to Highway 1,” San Mateo County Sheriff’s Det. Rosemerry Blankswade said. Evacuated areas include Pescadero Beach Area, Pescadero Creek County Park area, Bean Hollow, Pescadero, San Gregorio, La Honda, Red Barn, Russian Bridge Open Space, Skylonda Area and Langley Hill. San Mateo County closed all parks due to the fires.

Fires are also happening on both sides of Highway 1. Officers went door to door overnight making evacuations.

“We are asking everybody to avoid coming to these coastal towns,” Blankswade said.

The evacuation center set up at Half Moon Bay High is full, so evacuees, especially those with RVs, trailers and large animals, are asked to go to a new center at the San Mateo County Event Center.

First responders are pleading with residents in evacuation zones to leave the areas and not try to save their homes or others. Three rescues have happened that put both the residents and first responders’ lives at risk, and kept first responders from working on the fire line, officials said.

The CZU August Lightning Complex fires were among 367 known wildfires statewide that broke out following a 72-hour period of nearly 11,000 lightning strikes amid hot and dry conditions.

Visit the regional evacuations portal for more information. Visit Cal Fire’s incident map for more information on the status of wildfires throughout the state.

Headline image: Evacuation zones for the CZU August Lightning Complex fires