The CZU Lightning Complex wildfires at 63,000 acres, 5 percent contained

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The CZU August Lightning Complex wildfires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County was at 63,000 acres, and was 5 percent contained as of Saturday morning, as Cal Fire officials said continued favorable weather conditions allowed for progress to be made on the damaging blazes.

Over 24,000 structures continue to be threatened, 97 are confirmed destroyed and over 64,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. Just over 1,100 personnel were working to battle the fires and protect structures, officials said.

Reduced wind and a marine layer helped mitigate fire conditions in the northern end of the fire on Friday — including in the areas of Pescadero and Loma Mar of San Mateo County, Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said.

“We got some lines put it,” Brunton said, adding that while conditions are better the region is “still by far not out of the woods.”

Fire made a run in the Davenport community but the community “is still in good shape” with control lines firefighters are monitoring.

The blazes advanced again into Boulder Creek and the Ben Lomond areas, but fortunately it wasn’t a hard push into those communities, Brunton said.

A spot fire of about five acres invaded the Felton community, but firefighters were able to jump on it quickly.

Fire suppression teams scored a “big win” on the south end of the fire between Highway 1 an Highway 9, creating a fire line above the UC Santa Cruz campus and the communities of Santa Cruz and Capitola.

“It’s not bullet proof, not the silver bullet there, but it gives us a really good stronghold, a control point to keep the fire from moving southward into those communities,” Brunton said.

“We are putting a secondary fire break in that area,” he said.

In San Mateo County, evacuation centers have been set up at Half Moon Bay High and at the San Mateo County Event Center. Large animals are now being brought to the Cow Palace. Meanwhile, eight law enforcement teams are patrolling the northern evacuation areas to ensure the safety of people lingering in the area and to prevent looting of homes.

In Santa Cruz, where five suspected looters were recently arrested, 60 law enforcement personnel are on patrol, 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: CZU August Lightning Complex fires/Credit: Cal Fire CZU