Skip to Content

Thousands of structures threatened in CZU August Lightning Complex fire in Santa Cruz County

The CZU August lighting complex fire has threatened over 20,000 residents in Santa Cruz County. (Photo: John Palminteri)
CZU lighting fire
John Palminteri
The CZU August lighting complex fire has threatened over 20,000 residents in Santa Cruz County. (Photo: John Palminteri)
CZU fire
The CZU August lighting complex fire has threatened over 20,000 residents in Santa Cruz County.

SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. - A rapidly growing and destructive wild fire spawned out an intense lightning storm last weekend, has grown to 48,000 acres in Santa Cruz County.

Thursday evening the CZU August Lightning Complex fire was zero percent contained.

Cal Fire braced residents saying 59 structures have been destroyed, but over 20,000 were threatened and they have many areas to check for fire damage.

A burnt orange sky warned residents in Scotts Valley off Highway 17 as much as the messages they received from public officials to either prepare to evacuate or to leave the area depending on where they lived.

The community is divided into zones. As the fire progressed more areas were issued evacuation orders. That included the UC Santa Cruz campus.

Many vehicles were packed with belongings at area gas stations with residents leaving.

"The problem is the fire is  not contained,  zero containment.  We  are sitting next to near ground zero," said Robert Peralta.

He was heading into the nearby fire base camp.   From there he would relay information to his neighbors.  "Finding out what I can  and relaying information back to neighbors and  giving them the opportunity to say 'well do we stay or do we go'?    Several of us are staying.  If we are getting the mandatory we are getting out of here."

Scotts Valley is filling with firefighters coming in from the multiple strike teams assigned to this fire,  but residents are aware the state is in a challenging situation with massive fires burning in multiple locations.
The air quality is said to be as bad as anywhere in the world in portions of Northern California.

Erica Fenson was leaving with her dog and daughter, some belongings and a game plan to stay with friends out of the area.   Before she left she said, "I knocked on my neighbors doors to make sure that we got order that we needed to go, and we are hopeful  that everything will work out." 
Some of her neighbors are elderly and she wanted to check in before she left.
She said it was also important to keep a level head during this emergency to keep her daughter calm on the drive out of town.
Scotts  Valley has about 14,000  residents and the word has traveled fast.

Most have been expecting the notice to leave all day based on the dark skies and rapidly deployed fire teams.
By night fall residents who stayed behind were hoping for a solid night's sleep and the sound of aircraft at dawn as the firefight resumed.

The designated evacuation centers are:

San Mateo County

Half Moon Bay High School, 1 Lewis Foster Drive, Half Moon Bay

Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County Fairground, 2601 E. Lake Avenue in Watsonville

Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church Street, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Seventh Day Adventist Camp Grounds, 1931 Soquel San Jose Rd

For more information go to : Cal Fire

Article Topic Follows: Fire

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


News Channel 3-12 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content