Monday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m. — Firefighters and National Guard troops made progress containing the CZU Lightning Complex fires in northern
Santa Cruz and southern San Mateo counties today.
The fires, which have burned 85,600 acres, are 41% contained, an improvement from yesterday when containment reached 35%.
The fires have destroyed almost 900 homes and 50,000 people are still displaced.
There is no estimated time for when the fires will be fully under control, Cal Fire said. One person has died in the fires, and another was injured. Neither
was a firefighter.
California National Guard troops were on the fireline today, having come to augment the fire crews mopping up hot spots and patrolling the fireline, Cal Fire said.
Despite the increased containment, very warm and dry conditions
inland through the end of this week promise to make firefighters’ jobs harder
fighting the CZU fires and the other large wildfires in the region.
Sunday, Aug. 30, 8:15 p.m. — About 20,000 residents have been allowed to return to their homes in southern San Mateo and northern Santa Cruz counties as firefighters took advantage of cooler temperatures and higher humidity to fight the CZU Lightning Complex fires.
The fires have claimed 84,600 acres since being ignited by lightning strikes on Aug. 16, destroying 755 residences and damaging 84. One person has died and one was injured.
About 57,000 people still can’t return to their homes in the fire zone, which is down from 77,000 on Wednesday.
Containment edged up to 35% today, but the weather is going to change tomorrow.
A high pressure system will wick moisture from the air and bring renewed heat for the next week or so, said National Weather Service meteorologist Brayden Murdock.
“The bit of good news is the system might reduce inland winds. That might be a plus when it comes to fighting fires — less wind,” Murdock said today. “But conditions will be much drier, so that’s the trade-off.”
There’s unlikely to be a repeat of lightning-packed thunderstorms that sparked so many of the fires, he said.
Cal Fire reports that firefighters worked overnight to build containment lines around the fire, hoping it won’t grow once the heat and dryness returns.
Thursday, Aug. 27, 2 p.m. — Authorities today lifted evacuation orders for coastal communities hit by the CZU Lightning Complex fires.
Evacuation orders are lifted, and “repopulation” can begin in areas of Bean Hollow State Beach, Pescadero Beach, Pescadero Creek County Park, Pescadero, San Gregorio, La Honda, Langley Hill and Red Barn, Russian Ridge Open Space, Skylonda, Portola Redwoods State Park, Portola Heights and Middleton Tract.
Before returning, residents should check https://www.smcgov.org/smc-wildfire-recovery to determine if their home is accessible.
Roadblocks are also lifted at state Highway 1 at Gazos Creek Road, Cloverdale Road at Butano Cutoff, Pescadero Creek Road at Butano Cutoff and Pescadero Creek Road at Burns Valley Road.
Cal Fire urged residents to exercise caution when returning as emergency vehicles continue to operate in the area. Non-residents should stay away.
The CZU Lightning Complex is a group of fires burning in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County. It is 21% contained and spans 81,333 acres as of today.
Wednesday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m. — The CZU Lightning Complex fire in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties is 21% contained and authorities lifted an evacuation order for UC-Santa Cruz.
However, officials increased the number of homes destroyed to 408. Santa Cruz County officials reported that a woman who hadn’t been heard from since Monday was found dead at home, apparently due to natural causes. They also were looking for an evacuee missing since he told a friend he wanted to sneak back into a fire area.
Leigh-Anne Lehrman and her teenage daughters left their home in the Santa Cruz mountains a day before the blaze started after a power outage left them without a phone signal or internet connection. They packed clothes and toiletries for what they thought would be a few days away from home.
“Thankfully we took our dogs and my daughter’s bird with us and my girls thought of taking my jewelry box,” she said. Their neighbor, a volunteer firefighter, told them their home burned down and the only thing left is the chimney.
“After we left, a friend grabbed a box of photos but other than that we lost everything,” Lehrman added.
She said her ex-husband also lost his home in the area. In 2017, a blaze destroyed the home of Lehrman’s father and step-mother in Sonoma County.
“My girls lost both of their homes and they had already lost their grandpa’s home, literally every home they have ever known is now gone,” Lehrman said.
Billy See, incident fire commander, urged displaced residents to be patient.
“When the smoke starts to clear, all the residents get very restless about trying to get back in and wanting to know when the evacuation orders and warnings will be lifted,” See said.
Authorities were working on a plan for people to return after they make sure conditions are safe and water service and electrical power are available, he said.
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 5 p.m. — Authorities this afternoon have lifted evacuation warnings for several areas in the hills west of Palo Alto because of a diminished threat of wildfires. The warnings meant that residents should be ready to leave their homes if an evacuation were ordered.
The areas where the warnings were lifted are:
• Foothills Park to Santa Clara County line, including Los Trancos Open Space.
• South of Moody Road, West of Rancho San Antonio Open Space, West of Black Mountain, to Highway 35.
• Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, south of Monte Bello Road to Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard).
• Upper Stevens Creek County Park to Highway 35 (Skyline).
• West of Stevens Creek County Park, north of Congress Springs Road, to Highway 35 (Skyline).
• South of Congress Springs Road, West of Sanborn Road, to Highway 35 (Skyline), including Sanborn-Skyline County Park.
• South of Lyndon Canyon, West of Highway 17, to Highway 35 (Summit/Skyline), including the community of Redwood Estates.
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 10 a.m. — The CZU Lightning Complex fire burning in southern San Mateo and northern Santa Cruz counties is now 17% contained.
Approximately 77,000 people have been evacuated from both counties, according to Cal Fire, and seven people remain missing.
The fire has reached the size of 78,869 acres and caused one death.
Cal Fire said that 330 structures had been destroyed, 11 in San Mateo County and 319 in Santa Cruz County. Approximately 24,323 structures remain threatened.
Evacuation orders are in place for communities in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties and evacuation warnings exist for some areas in Santa Clara County.
Officials encouraged residents to heed evacuation orders and avoid returning to evacuation zones to secure property.
Monday, Aug. 24, 5 p.m. — The lightning storms forecasters had predicted yesterday didn’t materialize, providing some relief for firefighters who are battling major wildfires that were ignited by lightning a week ago.
While no new fires have erupted, the air quality in the Mid-Peninsula remains unhealthy. The acrid air has turned the sky a light orange.
The Bay Area is surrounded by major wildfires in Wind County, the hills east of San Jose and the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County, which has consumed 78,000 acres since it began Aug. 16.
Containment has increased to 13%.
Approximately 77,000 people have been evacuated from an area roughly bounded by Highway 84 to the north, Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard) to the east and Highway 17 to the south.
A total of 231 structures have been destroyed across both counties. Approximately 24,300 structures remain threatened.
While many evacuees are eager to return to their homes to assess damage, Jonathan Cox, a Cal Fire deputy chief, asks for “a lot of patience.”
Cox said the evacuation zone is extremely dangerous in areas where fire is no longer active due to charred trees, burned-out bridges, hazardous waste and risks.
For instance, the bridge over Gazos Creek is being assessed for safety by crews from San Mateo County Parks and the Department of Public Works. It is currently unsafe to cross, and officials remind the public never to drive across a bridge following a wildfire until it has been inspected and cleared by professionals.
Six people required emergency rescue over the weekend as they sought to return to their property in the fire zone without authorization, according to San Mateo County officials. This depleted resources that could otherwise have been focusing on firefighting and other public safety priorities, they said.
President Trump over the weekend declared a major disaster exists in California due to the wildfires, making the County of San Mateo eligible for federal funding assistance.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans and additional programs to help individuals and business owners.
Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance on Tuesday by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
New, unopened donations of diapers, baby formula and school supplies will be accepted through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the San Mateo County Event Center, Expo Hall, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo.
For school supplies, day backs, pens, highlighters, notebooks, pencil sharpeners, markers and clipboards as well as small bottles of hand sanitizer are needed.
No other donations are being accepted as this time at any location.
The county said that it is not equipped to accept, sort and distribute donations beyond what is requested at this time.
Animal Care: Evacuated large farm animals are being accepted at the Cow Palace in Daly City. For information and assistance, call the San Mateo County Large Animal Evacuation Group at (650) 450-0520 or visit https://smclaeg.org/
Farm animals that have not been evacuated yet are being fed and cared for by the San Mateo County Large Animal Evacuation Group.
The Peninsula Humane Society is accepting donations of pet food, cat litter and newspapers at its Coyote Point Shelter location, 12 Airport Blvd., San Mateo, CA 94401 and financial donations online at https://phs-spca.org/donateonline
To donate to the Cow Palace Livestock Evacuation Center, visit www.cowpalace.com for a list of needs.
To help feed and support animals evacuated by the San Mateo County Large Animal Evacuation Group, go to www.smclaeg.org and click on the Volunteer Now button.
Donate feed and supplies to support the large animal evacuees at HMB Feed & Fuel, 331 Main St., Half Moon Bay, CA ; (650) 726-4814. Financial donations can be made online at https://smclaeg.org
Public safety official continue to ask the public to avoid the San Mateo County coast to keep roadways clear for first responders and evacuees.
Major roadways across southern San Mateo County west of Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard) are closed. The list includes:
• Highway 84 west of Highway 35 (the “four corners” intersection)
• Highway 35 south of Highway 84
• Highway 1 between Rossi Road and Ano Nuevo
• Sections of Alpine Road, Pescadero Creek Road, Whitehouse Canyon Road, Cloverdale Road and other local roads
A full list of closures is at: https://www.smcgov.org/smc-wildfire-response.
San Mateo County Parks Closed
All San Mateo County Parks remain closed until further notice as park rangers are helping with firefighting. Coyote Point Marina tenants will have access to boats.
To find the most current evacuation map, go to https://arcg.is/PSSv10
Sign up for CalFire email updates at https://tinyurl.com/czulightning
Stay up-to date on air conditions at https://www.airnow.gov/
CALFire CZU San Mateo–Santa Cruz Unit Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/CALFIRECZU
Sign up for SMC Alerts at www.smcalert.info
Connect with the County of San Mateo on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CountyofSanMateo
Sunday, Aug. 23, 9 p.m. — Palo Alto fire officials are warning residents in the Palo Alto Hills and Foothills Park areas to be prepared in case they’re ordered to evacuate due to wildfires that might be touched off today by lightning storms.
The forecast calls for lightning on Monday throughout the Bay Area.
On Aug. 16, lightning ignited several fires, many of which have merged together, forming three complex fires — one in Wine Country, another east of San Jose and the third in Southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County.
That conflagration, called the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, is about 20 miles southwest of Palo Alto. It has claimed one life, forced the evacuation of 77,000 people, consumed 74,000 acres and is 8% contained.
The acrid smoke from that fire cast the skies in the mid-Peninsula in a dingy hue of grey yesterday.
Sunday night, Palo Alto officials were telling residents of the Palo Alto Hills and Foohills Park area that they should prepare for a possible evacuation by knowing their evacuation route and packing their car.
Residents of Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills and Woodside were also on edge yesterday, worried about the possibility that they would have to evacuate, like people did in Pescadero on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, authorities announced the discovery of the body of a 70-year-old man in a remote area called Last Chance. Police had to use a helicopter to reach the area, which is a string of about 40 off-the-grid homes at the end of a windy, steep dirt road north of the city of Santa Cruz.
The area was under an evacuation order and Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Chris Clark said it was a stark reminder of the need for residents to leave the area.
“This is one of the darkest periods we’ve been in with this fire,” he said.
Crews battling the CZU Lightning Complex Fire made progress during the weekend, which saw a welcome break in the unseasonably warm weather and little wind. That allowed firefighters to create fire breaks, which are strips of land that have been cleared of all trees, shrubs, grass and other combustible materials to stop the progress of a fire.
But the National Weather Service yesterday issued a “red flag” warning through this afternoon for the drought-stricken area, meaning extreme fire conditions including high temperatures, low humidity, lightning and wind gusts up to 65 mph that “may result in dangerous and unpredictable fire behavior.”
Mark Brunton, a Cal Fire battalion chief, said while he’s confident firefighters did the most with the time they had to prepare, he’s not sure what to expect.
“There’s a lot of potential for things to really go crazy out there,” he said.
The LNU Lightning Complex fire in Wine Country and SCU Lightning Complex east of San Jose grown to be two of the three largest fires in state history, with both burning more than 500 square miles.
The LNU fire has been the most deadly and destructive blaze, accounting for five deaths and 845 destroyed homes and other buildings. Three of the victims were in a home that was under an evacuation order.
Officials surveying maps at command centers are astonished by the sheer size of the fires, Cal Fire spokesman Brice Bennett said.
“You could overlay half of one of these fires and it covers the entire city of San Francisco,” Bennett said yesterday.
Saturday, Aug. 22, 9 p.m. — The group of wildfires burning in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County has consumed 67,000 acres, and firefighters have only been able to contain 5% of it, Cal Fire said tonight.
The fire, called the CZU August Lightning Complex, was sparked on Sunday, Aug. 16, with an unusual number of lightning strikes in the Bay Area.
The fire has forced the evacuation of 77,000 people. It’s destroyed 115 structures and threatens another 24,323. No deaths have been reported.
Cal Fire says its ability to fight this fire has been hampered because firefighters are battling hundreds of blazes across the state, and there are only so many crews to go around.
Tonight, the fire is continuing to burn above the marine lawyer in heavy timber and thick undergrowth, Cal Fire said.
Friday, Aug. 21, 7:51 p.m. — More than 57,000 acres have been scorched so far in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, according to Cal Fire, and that is prompting evacuation orders for more than 77,000 people. Cal Fire says there are five fires burning, collectively referred to as the CZU August Lightning Complex. Cal Fire said the fires are only 2% contained. As of Friday evening, at least 97 structures have either been damaged or destroyed — all believed to be single-family homes. More than 24,300 structures are threatened.
Friday, Aug. 21, 5 p.m. — Bay Area residents are urged to avoid going to the San Mateo County coast this weekend so firefighters can get to the fires raging nearby and residents can flee.
The CZU August Lightning Complex fires have burned 50,000 acres across southern San Mateo and northern Santa Cruz counties, forcing the evacuation of 64,000 residents.
Beaches in Half Moon Bay and Pacifica are closed.
“The number one contribution to the fire-fighting effort everyone can make is to avoid the coast,” said Cal Fire Deputy Chief Jonathan Cox, in a statement. “We know it’s hot across Northern California and people want some relief from the heat. But I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping roads to and from the coast open and clear for first responders and evacuees.”
Parts of state Highways 1, 35 and 84 are closed because of smoke and fire and more roads may be closed.
San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos stressed the importance of keeping “the roads clear for evacuations that can come at a moment’s notice. We do not want visitors coming to the coast who may end up in the middle of an active fire and need assistance.”
Thursday, Aug. 20, 1:30 p.m. — The Santa Cruz County Emergency Operations Center today asked all visitors, tourists and out-of-towners staying in local overnight accommodations like hotels, motels and vacation rentals to leave the county immediately to free up shelter capacity for wildfire evacuees. The center is working with local agencies including cities and school districts to increase shelter capacity as local shelters are almost full.
Those who are leaving the county should depart south on state Highway 1 or north on state Highway 17. The county is asking that new visitors do not travel to the county either.
The county is also asking evacuees to first seek shelter with friends and family and for those with extra bedrooms or even tents to share it on social media platforms like Nextdoor and Facebook.
Thursday, Aug. 20, 9:50 a.m. — Various wildfires blazing in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties, dubbed the CZU August Lightning Complex fires, have merged and spread to 40,000 acres with 0% containment as of this morning, according to Cal Fire.
Twenty structures have been destroyed, with 8,593 more structures threatened. Two first responders have also been injured battling the blazes, according to Cal Fire.
“Overnight we saw the fire make significant runs in the Davenport, Ben Lomond and Empire ridge area. Multiple evacuation orders and warnings were issued throughout the course night and we anticipate more in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Cal Fire spokesman Dan Olson said in a briefing on Cal Fire’s Twitter page.
The increased flames have forced additional evacuation orders to be placed on all areas of Felton. More than 28,000 people have been evacuated, according to Cal Fire.
Almost 600 personnel are using 44 engines, 21 water tenders, 10 dozers and 7 helicopters to respond to the fires. However, fire resources are scarce because of the high number of fires in Northern California. Smoke is also limiting the ability of aircraft operations, according to Cal Fire.
There are three evacuation centers open for residents of Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties:
• Half Moon Bay High School, 1 Lewis Foster Drive, Half Moon Bay;
• Santa Cruz County Fairground, 2601 E. Lake Avenue in Watsonville; and
• Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church Street, Santa Cruz.
To view the most current evacuation information and see a map of the CZU Lightning Complex, people can visit www.smco.community.zonehaven.com. To sign up for email updates, people can visit https://tinyurl.com/czulightning.
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 8 p.m. — Cal Fire, which already had ordered some residents in the area of the CZU Lightning fires to evacuate, warned people in parts of San Mateo County to be ready to leave.
The warning covered the hamlets of Pescadero, San Gregorio, La Honda, Skylonda and the nearby areas of Pescadero Beach, Pescadero Creek County Park, Bean Hollow, Red Barn Area, Russian Ridge Open Space amd Langley Hill.
An evacuation center has been set up at Half Moon Bay High School, at 1 Lewis Foster Drive in Half Moon Bay.
In Santa Cruz County, residents of the areas of Alba Road, Hubbard Gulch, Fanning Grade and Davenport South were ordered to leave about 9 p.m.
Evacuation centers have been setup at Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds at 2601 East Lake Ave. in Watsonville and Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium at 307 Church St. in Santa Cruz, CA.
The most current evacuation information related to this fire can be found at www.smco.community.zonehaven.com. Residents may sign up at https://tinyurl.com/czulightning to receive email updates.
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 12:08 p.m. — The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued Spare the Air alerts through Sunday because of smoke that has spread throughout the region from wildfires sparked by lightning last weekend.
The air district had already issued alerts through Wednesday, then extended it through this weekend because of elevated particulate pollution levels caused by the wildfires.
The Peninsula, Santa Clara Valley and Livermore Valley are expected to see the heaviest impacts from the smoke pollution, but impacts are possible throughout the Bay Area, according to the air district.
On Spare the Air days, it is illegal for people to use fireplaces, wood stoes, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or other wood-burning devices.
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 11:22 a.m. — More than 22,000 people in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties have been ordered to evacuate due to multiple wildfires that have burned an estimated 10,000 acres as of this morning, according to Cal Fire.
Lightning caused the fires, known as the CZU August Lightning Complex, early Sunday morning near the border of the two counties.
Evacuations are in place for the following areas in San Mateo County:
• Communities of Loma Mar and Dearborn Park Area
• Pescadero Creek County Park Area
• Butano Community Area
• Butano State Park Area including Barranca Knolls Community
• Butano Creek Drainage
• South Skyline Boulevard Area near state Highway 9
• Russian Ridge Open Space Reserve Area
• Middleton Tract Area
• Portola Redwoods State Park and the Portola Heights Community Area
The evacuation center for San Mateo County is Pescadero High School at 360 Butano Cuttoff Road, Pescadero.
The fires are zero percent contained as of 7 a.m. Wednesday. There have been no fatalities but three first responders have been injured. No property damage has been reported but 6,000 structures are threatened.
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 10 a.m. — Smoke from surrounding wildfires combined with a heat wave has reduced the air quality to unhealthy levels in the mid-Peninsula, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Overnight, people reported ash had fallen on their cars.
The high-pressure system that has settled over the Bay Area has trapped particulates from the fire close to the ground.
Tuesday, Aug. 18, 10:21 p.m. — Several fires in the region are producing smoke that is lingering over the Peninsula, reducing the air quality.
In addition to major fires in Napa and Sonoma counties, three fires are burning in southern San Mateo County and two in northern Santa Cruz County near Boulder Creek. They’ve been difficult for firefighters to reach because of their remote locations. But they’re putting out smoke that is reaching the Bay side of the Peninsula. Cal Fire believes the fires were sparked by lightning that rolled through the region on Sunday morning.
Cal Fire has issued evacuation orders for the Loma Mar and Dearborn Park areas, the Pescadero Creek County Park area, and the Butano area due to increased fire spread. An evacuation center has been established at Pescadero High School, at 360 Butano Cutoff in the unincorporated community of Pescadero.
The many windy, long, forested roads, some paved, some dirt, can easily become blocked during storms or fires. The evacuation orders specify which direction particular neighborhoods need to go to safely get out.
Cal Fire is calling the group of five fires the CZU August Lightning Complex. As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, here’s the status of the five fires:
• 5-14 Fire (San Mateo County), 2,000 acres, 0% contained, Olmo Truck Trail and Butano Fire Road.
• 5-15 Fire (San Mateo County), 2,500 acres, 0% contained, N. Butano Truck Trail and Dearborn Park Road.
• 5-18 Fire (San Mateo County), 2,500 acres, 0% contained, N. Butano Truck Trail and China Grade Road.
• Warrenella (Santa Cruz County), 300 acres, 10% contained, Cement Plant Road and Highway 1.
• Waddell (Santa Cruz County), 500 acres, 0% contained, Old Coast Road and Highway 1.
In Wine Country, twin blazes totaling 9,500 acres sent residents fleeing their homes in Sonoma County. And a 2,700-acre fire in Napa County was burning close to remote grape-growing properties owned by Villa Del Lago Winery.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Spare the Air alert for Wednesday because of the smoke.
Burning wood, manufactured fire logs or other solid fuel is banned both indoors and outdoors on days when the alerts are in effect.
The air district is recommending that Bay Area residents stay inside if possible with windows and doors closed until smoke levels subside.
Current evacuation information can be viewed online at community.zonehaven.com.
For the current status of the wildfires, go to the Cal Fire website.