The CZU August Lightning Complex wildfires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County had grown to 80,137 acres and was 19 percent contained as of Wednesday morning, Cal Fire officials said.
Over 24,000 structures remain under threat, and 538 are confirmed destroyed, 11 of them in San Mateo County and the rest in Santa Cruz County, officials said. Just under 1,700 firefighters are battling the blazes.
Despite the grim statistics, Cal Fire officials are optimistic, as favorable weather in the past few days have allowed them to build fire control lines to prevent its spread. The better weather also allowed helicopters to drop over 1.6 million gallons of water on the fires, including 256,000 gallons on Tuesday. Fire officials remain confident the blazes will not continue their march into regions they were previously concerned about, including Santa Clara County, UC Santa Cruz and Felton.
The forecast of continued favorable weather will enable firefighters to continue the work to strengthen fire lines, officials said. Plans are being made to send crews to fire-ravaged zones to clear roadways, enabling utility vehicles and damage inspectors to begin the recovery process.
San Mateo County Det. Rosmerry Blankswade expressed gratitude to the local community for donations to first responders and evacuees. Diapers, formula and other baby supplies came into the San Mateo County Event Center, set up as an evacuation center, she said. Restaurants, including Alice’s Restaurant on Skyline and Highway 84, have donated food to first responders.
“We’re grateful for the support from the community,” Blankswade said, adding, “It’s just incredibly motivating. Our first responders and support staff see these messages and comments, we see signs as well out in the community, and we can’t tell you how much it means to us right now.”
The CZU August Lightning Complex fires were among hundreds of 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 of Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton holding Thank You cards from community members credited to Cal Fire CZU