SAN MATEO COUNTY (CBS SF) — Evacuation warnings issued for areas of San Mateo and Monterey counties scarred by wildfires were upgraded to evacuation orders Tuesday due to the threat of mudslides as a series of storms approached the Bay Area.

The orders were for areas of the CZU Lightning Complex burn area. Cal Fire said because of the rain amounts forecast, there was an increased risk of debris flow in the following areas:

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(Zones: SMC-E019, SMC-E098, SMC-E038, SMC-E018)

  • South Coast Zone SMC-E019, which includes Coastanoa and Año Nuevo State Park. This includes Whitehouse Canyon Road and areas south of Gazos Creek Road
  • The Communities of Loma Mar and Dearborn Park in Zone SMC-E018
  • South Coast Zone SMC-038, which includes Butano State Park and the Community of Barranca Knolls, west of Cloverdale Road
  • The Community of Butano Canyon in Zone SMC-E-098

A temporary shelter has been established in Pescadero at Pescadero High School, 360 Butano Cutoff.

Tuesday, The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office completed a massive outreach effort, with teams of dozens of deputies fanning out across the region, and knocking on the doors of 2,800 homes that fall within the evacuation area.

Davenport also activated its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) stationing volunteers to help direct evacuees to services set up at the evacuation meetup location at Pacific Elementary in Davenport. At the site, evacuees can pickup meal rations, pet food, water, and sign up for hotel vouchers from the Red Cross.

“This could be a matter of life or death,” said Ashley Keehn, public information officer for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. “We are hoping that people heed these evacuation orders and get out while they still can.”

However, deputies received verbal confirmation from at least 200 families that remain in place during the storm, despite the mandatory evacuation order. The residents were asked to fill out an “evacuation refusal waiver”, which is not required, but collected only for information purposes, said Keen.

Under the order, however, there will be no planned roadblocks to restrict travel, similar to what occurred during the evacuations of CZU Fire last summer. With up to ten inches of rain forecasted for parts of the Santa Cruz mountains, there would likely be fallen trees, downed power lines and rock slides that would impede vehicle traffic, according to Keehn.

During the CZU fires, which stretched firefighting resources thin across the state, numerous homeowners stayed behind to battle the flames and defend their properties with garden hoses, chain saws and shovels.

“Fire, in some instances, you can stop. You can put those flames out yourself. A debris flow, you can’t. It is too strong, it can be too big. You can’t stop that from coming,” said Keehn.

Iosto Saleri and his family opted to leave their homes which is near the mouth of the San Vincente Creek that spills into the Pacific Ocean. Officials fear the heavy runoff upstream will inundate the creek and flood the surrounding neighborhood.

“I stayed during the fires, to do what I could to protect the home. As far as this one, no, I don’t want to be around. The debris flow is much more violent and uncontrollable. We’re gonna go to safe ground, ride it out and see what happens,” said Saleri.

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A sign at Pie Ranch, off Highway 1 in Pescadero, showed it closed until Friday, due to inclement weather. Jered Lawson and his son Lucas were finalizing preparations to the main structure as the first rains fell, clearing out a drainage culvert. Flames from the CZU Fire came within several feet of their home.

“I am gonna stay. We’re in a high spot, and we have two-story house, so I feel like worst-case scenario, I can be upstairs and be alright. But you know, again, we’re far enough from the creek itself that we feel like we’ll be OK,” said Jered Lawson.

The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office also issued an evacuation order for areas in the two miles downslope of the Dolan Fire burn scar that went into effect 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Live interactive evacuation map:

On Monday, Cal Fire also issued evacuation orders for people living in the Santa Cruz Mountain burn area of the CZU Lightning Complex fire. The orders were for residents in Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek and Felton.

Evacuation centers have been set up at:

  • San Lorenzo Valley High School — 7105 Hwy 9, Felton, CA 95018
  • Scotts Valley Community Center — 360 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
  • Pacific Elementary School — 50 Ocean Street, Davenport, CA 95017

Read The Full Evacuation Order

Officials in Monterey County also issued evacuation warnings for burn-scar areas ahead of the major storm system.

The National Weather Service has issued several warnings for the region including a flash flood watch for the San Francisco Bay Area, an avalanche watch for the Sierra were as much as seven feet or more of new snow could fall in the highest elevations and a high wind warning for “locally up to 70 mph in southwest facing slopes and coastal areas” in the San Francisco region.

“This atmospheric river is still on track to be hazardous to a large portion of NorCal with heavy rains, gusty winds, and a Sierra snow dump,” the National Weather Service said.

The weather system was expected to arrive late Tuesday night and last through Thursday.

“The National Weather Service is expecting anywhere from 8-12 inches over the course of the storm for the Santa Cruz Mountains,” Cal Fire officials said. “An evacuation warning means these individuals need to be prepared to leave immediately with a go bag and planned evacuation route.”

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