CZU August Lightning Complex Fires
These cars were destroyed by the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire on Summit Drive off of Highway 9 north of Boulder Creek. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

SCOTTS VALLEY—The CZU August Lightning Complex fire has destroyed 1,490 structures as of Thursday, making it the ninth-most destructive fire ever recorded in the state.

According to Cal Fire, 925 of those structures are single-family homes. Most of those homes once stood in the Santa Cruz mountain towns of Boulder Creek and Bonny Doon. Another 90 residences were damaged by the 86,102-acre blaze.

The fire was 51% contained as of Thursday. Cal Fire has not yet determined a date in which it will be completely contained.

Some 7,600 structures are still in danger and roughly 9,000 residents remain evacuated, according to Cal Fire.

Several thousand residents in parts of Ben Lomond and Felton were allowed to return home over the weekend, and roadways in Boulder Creek and Brookdale were reopened Wednesday. 

The CZU Complex is one of four major fires burning on the Central Coast and greater Bay Area. Combined, the SCU Lightning Complex, the River Fire, the Carmel Fire and the CZU Complex have chewed through more than 513,000 acres, or 802 square miles, in 10 counties.

Firefighters battling the River and Carmel fires in Monterey County have made major headway. All Monterey County residents who were ordered to flee their property because of those fires have since been allowed to return home. The River Fire charred 48,088 acres and was 98% contained on Wednesday. The Carmel Fire, meanwhile, burned 6,905 acres and was also 98% contained.

Many residents on the outskirts of the SCU fire were also allowed to return home, though the heart of the 391,578-acre blaze centered near a mesh point of Santa Clara, Alameda, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties still remained off-limits as of Thursday morning. That fire was 78% contained on Thursday morning, and is the second-largest ever recorded in the state’s history—it has swapped positions with the ongoing LNU Lightning Complex burning in Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Yolo and Lake counties over the last week— and has scorched mostly uninhabited land.

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Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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