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CZU Lighting Complex: Fire Victim Died Trying To Flee Flames, 6 Rescued; Weather Helps Firefighters

SCOTTS VALLEY (CBS SF) -- A 70-year-old man found dead near the coastal community of Davenport likely was killed while trying to escape the advancing CZU Lightning Complex fire (map), while six others were rescued after they became trapped by flames while trying to return to their evacuated homes, officials said Monday during an update on the battle with the massive wildfire.

Monday evening, Cal Fire officials noted that while there were 300 lightning strikes across the state that resulted in ten new fires, there were no lightning strikes in Santa Cruz or San Mateo County.

The fire complex grew overnight to more than 78,000 acres, was 13 percent contained, fire officials said. Another 24,300 structures were being threatened and thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes.

A total of 276 structures have been destroyed by the CZU Lightning Complex, according to Cal Fire officials. 1,609 firefighters are now working the fire.

With improved weather helping the firefighting efforts, Cal Fire said their six helicopters were up all day making water drops on the fire.

Fire officials also announced that investigators released new surveillance photos Monday evening in hopes they will help identify the suspect who stole a fire commander's wallet while he was fighting the CZU Lightning Complex Fire.

The CZU Lightning Complex Fire's first victim has yet to be identified. His body was found on Last Chance near what authorities believe was his vehicle.

"We are working to notify his next of kin ... as soon as we speak with the family, we will be able to provide more information," Santa Cruz County Chief Deputy Chris Clark told reporters.

When asked if the man was found inside a burned-out home, Clark said: "No he wasn't. At least preliminary it looks like he was near his vehicle, some distance away from his vehicle. Likely leaving the fire."

The 70-year-old became the sixth Bay Area resident to die in the fires that are raging from the shore of Lake Berryessa to outside Morgan Hill. Three have died in Napa County and two others in Solano County.

ALSO READ: LNU Lightning Complex: Family Mourns Deaths Of Napa Fire Victims; 'I Never Get To Hug Her'

Clark also said deputies were trying to track down four local residents who have been reported missing.

Meanwhile, San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy Sgt. Sal Zuno said six local residents who had been evacuated snuck back into their neighborhood and became trapped by flames.

"They snuck into a restricted area, they were surprised by the fire, we had to redirect resources to get them out," Zuno said. "We understand when people are evacuated they are very anxious and concerned for their properties. That's why we have law enforcement there keeping it secure 24/7. If it's restricted, do not enter it."

Santa Cruz deputies also arrested three people overnight -- including a San Francisco woman carrying several backpacks -- for illegally being in the evacuated neighborhoods.

On Monday, there was detectable air of optimism among firefighters, as progress was made and the weather was cooperating.

While the region remained under a Red Flag Fire Warning until 5 p.m., a forecast of gusty winds and numerous dry lightning strikes has yet to materialize. Cal Fire spokesman Jonathan Cox said as of 6 a.m. there had been no reported lightning strikes in the region.

"The weather hasn't been as significant as we were expecting, which is good," said Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton. "It has given us an opportunity to our crews to make a lot of great progress."

"Over the last 48 hours we've had a lot of success, a lot of small wins and they're starting to add up to larger wins on this incident," Cal Fire Incident Commander Billy See explained at the Monday morning press briefing.

The overnight hours were so still and quiet a lot of firefighters here were able to get some sleep.

"And that has given us an opportunity for our crews to make a lot of great progress throughout this fire," said Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton. "We are very confident that these lines are going to hold and do what we need them to do."

The fire continues to wind its way through the forest, but more than 1,500 personnel have it effectively surrounded, with what they believe are strong lines now on the north and south sides.

Among the top areas of concern now are the homes scattered around Bonny Doon, and the communities up and down the Highway 9 corridor.

"Again, heavy fuels, rugged terrain," Brunton says. "Putting those lines in, to hold them and establish them, is going to take time."

California Wildfire Stories

The other concern in this area continues to be security. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said 100 officers were patrolling and anyone not authorized to be in an evacuation zone would be arrested.

"What we're hearing from the community is that there's a lot of looting going on," Hart said.

He and county District Attorney Jeff Rosell expressed anger at what Rosell called the "absolutely soulless" of criminals victimizing people already victimized by the fire. Among them was a fire commander who was robbed when he left his fire vehicle to help direct operations.

Brunton said Sunday a thief entered the commander's department vehicle, stole personal items, including his wallet and drained his bank account.

Clark also said a deputy had been assigned to track down whoever stole a fire captain's wallet out of his truck.

"They will be found, they will be arrested," he said.

"We did make three arrests last night," said Clark. "As I've said before, and I'll continue to say, we have a lot of personnel. Last night we had a lot of personnel in today moving forward we're going to have 79 total personnel."


Wilson Walker contributed to this report.



No Evacuation Warnings currently in place


  • Communities of Loma Mar and Dearborn Park Area (Zone SMC E018)
  • Pescadero Creek County Park Area (Zone SMC E024)
  • Butano Community Area (Zone SMC E098)
  • Butano State Park Area including Barranca Knolls Community (Zone SMC E019)
  • Butano Creek Drainage (Zone SMC E055)
  • South Skyline Blvd. Area near Highway 9 (SMC E049)
  • Russian Ridge Open Space Reserve Area (Zone SMC E027)
  • Middleton Tract Area (Zone SMC E044)
  • Portola Redwoods State Park and the Portola Heights Community Area (Zone SMC E048)
  • Pescadero Beach Area (Zone SMC E075)
  • Bean Hollow Area (Zone SMC E042)
  • Pescadero Area (Zone SMC E043)
  • San Gregorio Area (Zone SMC E022)
  • La Honda Area (Zone SMC E028)
  • Red Barn Area (Zone SMC E010)
  • Russian Bridge Open Space Area (Zone SMC E027)
  • Skylonda Area (Zone SMC E012)
  • Langley Hill Area ( Zone SMC E010)
  • Bean Hollow Area (Zone SMC E042) (8/20/2020 6:00 pm)


No Evacuation Warnings currently in place


  • Waterman Gap Loop, Upper HWY 236, Boulder Creek Golf Course, Heartwood Hill, Lodge Road, Community of Little Basin, Lower China Grade, Upper China Grade, Community of Kings Hwy, Lower Jamison Creek, Gallion Heights, Fallen Leaf Neighborhood, Foxglove Lane (Zones CRZ10, CRZ13, BOU36, BOU20, BOU30, BOU31, BOU36, BOU37, BOU21)
  • Saratoga Toll Road, San Lorenzo Park, Riverside Grove-Community of Teilh Drive, Wildwood Road (BOU38, BOU39, BOU40, BOU41, BOU42, BOU43)
  • Everyone on Empire Grade Road, from Felton Empire north, all of Pine Flat Road, all of Ice Cream Grade, Bonny Doon Road, in between Pine Flat Road, Martin Road, and all associated side streets are under an evacuation order. (CRZ1, CRZ2, CRZ3, CRZ4, CRZ5, CRZ10, CRZ11, CRZ12, CRZ13, CRZ14, CRZ15)
  • Bonny Doon south of Ice Cream Grade, to include Pine Flat Road South is now under an evacuation order. (CRZ7, CRZ8)
  • Areas of Alba Road, Hubbard Gulch and Fanning Grade. (BEN 1)
  • All areas of Ben Lomond (Zones BEN 2 – BEN 5)
  • The area of Lompico (Zones ZAY 11, ZAY 12)
  • All areas adjacent to the Bonny Doon and San Lorenzo Valley should be prepared to evacuate if necessary. (CRZ7, CRZ8)
  • Areas West of Highway 9 to Empire Grade
  • South from Bear Creek Road to Felton, this includes Ben Lomond
  • Paradise Park (Zones: CRZ 63, CRZ 64)
  • University of California Santa Cruz, campus only (Zone: SCZ 4)
  • The areas of Zayante Canyon (Zones: ZAY 1 – ZAY 17)
  • Scotts Valley West of State Route 17 (Zones: SCO 1-5, SCO 7, SCO 14-20, SCO 21 – SCO 25)
  • Davenport south (Zones: CRZ 6, CRZ 9, CRZ 17
  • All areas of Felton (Zones: FEL 1– FEL6)


San Mateo County

Half Moon Bay High School, 1 Lewis Foster Drive, Half Moon Bay (AT CAPACITY)

San Mateo Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive

Santa Cruz County

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

Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church Street, Santa Cruz (AT CAPACITY)

Seventh Day Adventist Camp Grounds, 1931 Soquel San Jose Rd (AT CAPACITY)

Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos CA

Santa Cruz Bible Church, 440 Frederick Street, Santa Cruz

Simpkins Family Swim Center, 919 17th Ave (ADA only)

Twin Lakes Church, 2701 Cabrillo College Drive


Road closures are fluid and being coordinated with evolving evacuation warnings and orders.

San Mateo County

  • Pescadero Creek Road between Alpine and Cloverdale Rd.
  • Cloverdale Road between Pescadero Creek Road and Gazos Creek.
  • Whitehouse Canyon Road at Highway 1
  • Portola Heights Road at Skyline
  • State Route 1 at Rossi Road
  • State Route 1 at Ano Nuevo

Santa Cruz County

  • State Route 1 at Shaffer Road to Ano Nuevo
  • State Route 9 at Lower Glen Arbor to Rincon Trail head
  • Westbound Zayante at Graham Hill Dr to Lockwood
  • Empire Grade at Heller Drive
  • Westbound State Route 35 at Upper Zayante into San Mateo County
  • Westbound State Route 236 at Jamison Creek
  • Pine Flat at Empire Grade
  • Ice Cream Grade at Empire Grade
  • Felton Empire at Fall Creek
  • Empire Grade at Smith Grade
  • Empire Grade at Felton Empire
  • Bonny Doon Rd at Pine Flat
  • Alba Rd at Empire Grade
  • State Route 35 at Bear Creek Rd to Boulder Creek
  • Granite Creek at Scotts Valley, this includes southbound offramp closure at Highway 17 at Granite Creek
  • Westbound Mount Hermon at La Modrona to Graham Hill Road
  • Zayante at State Route 35

Animal Evacuation Center:

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

Large farm animals are being accepted at Cowpalace. For information and assistance contact (650) 450-0520.

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