SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — As firefighters approach full containment on the lightning-caused fires burning for more than two weeks in Northern California, they are also bracing for possible flare-ups because of an approaching heat wave this weekend.
Firefighters continued to make progress overnight on the LNU Lightning Complex of fires and reached 87 percent containment Friday morning, Cal Fire said.
The fires, burning since Aug. 17, have charred 375,209 acres, destroyed 1,491 structures, and were threatening 1,350 more.
Five people have died and four others have been injured in the wildfires burning in Lake, Sonoma, Yolo, Napa and Solano counties.
Firefighters are bracing for dry, hot weather and southwest winds; interior areas of the fire may occasionally flare up, Cal Fire said Friday morning.
Nearly three weeks after lightning-sparked wildfires in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties, the CZU Lightning Complex has burned 86,509 acres and is 56 percent contained, Cal Fire said Friday morning.
The blaze has killed one civilian and injured another. It also destroyed 925 residences, 171 commercial buildings, and 388 other minor structures.
Still, there are 8,221 people evacuated and more than 7,600 structures threatened as firefighters continue efforts to reinforce containment lines and suppress the fire, Cal Fire said.
Temperatures will be high and humidity low because of the heat wave this Labor Day weekend, which is prime weather for fire spread, fire officials said.
There is a resource assistance center located at Kaiser Permanente Area in Santa Cruz and a local assistance center at the Pescadero Elementary School in Pescadero. At both locations, evacuees or impacted residences can file for FEMA disaster assistance, recover important documents and seek personalized assistance.
There are also two evacuation centers available for large farm animals: Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville and the Watsonville Animal Shelter.
The Santa Cruz County hotel hotline can be reached at (831) 454-2182. For more information about the fire and resources available, call 211.
Firefighters made some progress on the SCU Lightning Complex of fires with a footprint in six counties, Cal Fire officials said Friday morning.
As of 7 a.m., containment was 82 percent, up 2 percent from Thursday evening. Full containment is expected Sept. 12, incident spokesman Jake Miller said.
This weekend officials expect more challenging conditions than in the past week and they’ll be monitoring the well-being of firefighters.
“It’s going to be hot out there,” Miller said.
There’s an excessive heat warning for Saturday, Sunday and Monday, he said. Temperatures are expected to be in the 90s across most of the fire region, with the chance of 100s, he said.
Miller said firefighters will be doing as much work as possible in the morning and evening when it’s cooler and more patrolling in the afternoon when the heat sets in.
The fire started 16 days ago in several locations and has burned into a massive blaze that’s scorched nearly 400,000 acres and destroyed 131 structures, according to Cal Fire officials.
Much of the fire is contained in the six counties consisting of Alameda, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Contra Costa, Merced and San Joaquin, Miller said. But firefighters are still working mainly near Gilroy and Morgan Hill to put out the rest of the blaze, he said.
Portions of the footprint are still under mandatory evacuation orders. A list of those areas can be found at fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/8/18/scu-lightning-complex/.
Miller encourages residents to monitor Cal Fire’s social media pages for the latest information on the fire.
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