MORGAN HILL (CBS SF) — Easing weather conditions have helped firefighters battling the massive SCU Lightning Complex fires (map), to make progress against the third-largest wildfire outbreak in state history and allow some evacuated residents to return home.

In Santa Clara County, the following evacuation orders were downgraded to evacuation warnings as of 5 p.m.:

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  • North of Magnolia Ct. and Magnolia Way,
  • East of Lower Thomas Grade along the East Dunne Corridor
  • East of Hwy 101 to Metcalf Rd., East of Coyote Creek, East of Cochrane Rd., East of Hill Rd., South of Main Ave. North of Dunne Ave., West of Shingle Valley Rd. and Anderson Lake, to include the Jackson Oaks and Holiday Lake Estates.
  • South of Metcalf Rd.
  • South of Dunne Ave. and west of Lower Thomas Grade, East of Hill Rd., North of Maple Ave., Foothill Ave.,
  • North San Martin Ave.
  • East of New Ave.
  • North of Roop Rd.,
  • West of Coyote Creek and Coyote Lake

In Stanislaus County, the following evacuation orders were downgraded to evacuation warnings as of 5 p.m.:

  • North of Orestimba Rd. and Orestimba Creek in between I-5 and the fire perimeter to the Stanislaus/San Joaquin County Line
  • South of the Stanislaus/San Joaquin County Line in between I-5 and the fire perimeter to Orestimba Rd. and Orestimba Creek
  • East of the fire perimeter to I-5 in between Stanislaus/San Joaquin County Line and Orestimba Creek
  • West of I-5 in between the Stanislaus/San Joaquin County Line and Orestimba Rd.


For anyone who thought the firefight would be ending any time soon, however, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jake Hess dashed those thoughts.

“This is an absolute marathon that we are embarking on,” he told reporters. “We have recognized that we are going to need to be here in the long term. We have been messaging to all our cooperators that we are going to have to manage the pace because this is going to be a long term incident.”

Earlier Monday, firefighters were on edge as a weather system moved over the fire complex, bringing with it the threat of new lightning strikes. The fires have burned more than 347,000 acres across parts of seven counties and were 10 percent contained, Cal Fire said Monday morning.

Meanwhile, families forced from their homes near Morgan Hill Sunday night were starting their first day in evacuation shelters, at relatives’ homes, or in hotels and motels.

Cal Fire officials said two of the major fires merged and have broken into three zones: The Deer, Canyon, and Calaveras, which hasn’t seen this kind of fire activity.

“We’re dealing with areas that have never burned in recorded history so it’s posing difficulty for access and the age of the material and density of it,” said Steven Volmer of Cal Fire.

While the Deer Zone fire in Contra Costa County was mostly burnt out by Friday, firefighters were still struggling to contain the complex’s fires in Alameda, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced and San Benito counties.

Cal Fire officials said Sunday that the two most active areas of the fire complex were the Calaveras zone in eastern Fremont and northeast of  San Jose as well as the southeastern sections of Stanislaus and Merced counties.
The smoke that has blanketed much of the Bay Area may abate slightly, according to Cal Fire officials, as temperatures drop and humidity in the region rises. A Red Flag Fire Warning for the region expired at 5 p.m.
More than 20,000 structures are threatened by the fire complex. In addition, three first responders and two civilians have been injured as a result of the fires. Firefighters continue to prioritize civilian safety and the protection of structures and infrastructure as the fire grows.
According to Cal Fire, firefighters are monitoring the fire’s development using aerial assets to determine the best way to fight it.

California Wildfire Stories

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The complex has also forced more than 77,000 residents from their homes.

“I really feel we just have to get out of here,” said 10-year-old Adelaide Jane who fled with her family Sunday night in Morgan Hill. “We’ll be safe and hopefully our house doesn’t burn down.”

Adelaide Jane and her family had just moved into their new home. The moving van was still sitting in the driveway Sunday night.

“It’s a pretty stressful time and we’ve got kids just wondering what’s going to happen to their stuff,” said Jason Jane.

Soon after evacuation orders were issued for parts of Santa Clara County, a steady stream of cars could be seen heading West near the foothills of Morgan Hill.

“I’m nervous. I don’t want to lose my home but our lives are more important,” said Penny Furusho.

“If they tell you to evacuate that means they’ve already checked out the area and it’s not safe around here,” said Morgan Hill resident Alvaro Garcia.

Children like Adelaide, who can’t go to school, are now forced to leave their homes.

“I’m scared a little and just worrying about the fires the way the winds have been changing and going,” said Adelaide Jane.


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