Thanks to continued favorable weather, firefighters made additional progress on the CZU August Lightning Complex wildfires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County over the last 24 hours. The cluster of blazes remained at about 78,000 acres, and containment grew by 4 percent Monday to 17 percent as of Tuesday morning, Cal Fire officials said.
Over 25,000 structures remain under threat, and 330 structures are confirmed destroyed, 11 of them in San Mateo County and the rest in Santa Cruz County, officials said. Just over 1,600 firefighters are battling the blazes.
Improved weather conditions allowed fire crews to continue to build control lines around the fire to prevent its further march into communities. On Monday, helicopters taking advantage of the favorable weather dropped 200,000 gallons of water into the fire zone, and anticipate being able to do that again Tuesday, Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said.
From the north end of the fire near Loma Mar in San Mateo County, to the south end below Bonny Doon, fire lines are holding well and in some cases self-mitigating, Brunton said. The city of Santa Cruz and UC Santa Cruz are “looking very well protected” as of Tuesday morning, Brunton said. Optimism was also expressed about fire battles near Felton, Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek.
The CZU August Lightning Complex fires were among 367 wildfires that began last week throughout the state following 11,000 lightning strikes over a 72-hour period. The lightning strikes were caused by a tropical storm in the Pacific. Firefighting resources have been stretched thin as a result of the large number of wildfires.
Headline image credited to Cal Fire CZU