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CZU Lightning Complex: Body Found; Looter Steals Fire Commander's Wallet, Drains Bank Account; 77,000 People Evacuated

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (CBS SF) – The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office announced Sunday that a person has died in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire that had grown to 74,000 acres and has forced 77,000 local residents from their homes.

The body was recovered in the area of Last Chance Road. The San Mateo County sheriff's office said a helicopter was necessary to retrieve the body, believed to be that of a 70-year-old man.

The victim's identity is being withheld pending notification of family members. The death was the sixth in the fires that have erupted in the Bay Area. Three victims died in their home in Napa County and two others have died in Solano County.

On Sunday night, Cal Fire officials said the fire had grown to 74,000 acres, 77,000 people have been evacuated,  the blaze was 8 percent contained and has destroyed 131 structures.

"Firefighters are aggressively taking suppression action," Cal Fire said in a press release. "The fires continue to actively burn above the marine layer in the heavy timber and thick undergrowth."

Meanwhile, a fire commander at the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains has became a looting victim, a Cal Fire official said Sunday.

"It's unfortunate and sickening that one of our fire ground commanders in that area, while out taking care of business and directing firefighting crews, somebody entered his vehicle," Battalion Chief Mark Brunton said at a briefing Sunday morning.

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

"That's the extent that these people have gone, again this is why we have asked people to evacuate," Brunton went on to say.


The latest incident follows the arrests of five suspected looters in the area on Friday.

According to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department, looters were reported in the area of Fall Creek Road on Friday morning. Deputies were dispatched to the area and spotted two suspicious vehicles.

When deputies attempted a traffic stop, one of the cars stopped, but the other attempted to flee and ended up in a ditch.

Jose Gandarilla, Susana Luna, Crystal Araujo, Sara Loretz and Crystle Parstch-Lucchesi were all arrested on numerous charges including looting, grand theft, conspiracy to commit a crime and burglary.

Cal Fire said anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.

Like firefighters across the Bay Area fire lines, CZU Cal Fire officials were concerned Sunday night with an approaching weather system. By 8 p.m. winds had already kicked up the fire ravage Santa Clara Mountains.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Fire Warning for the area until 5 p.m. Monday.

A plume of unstable weather from the remnants of Hurricane Genevieve was streaming into the region, bringing with it gusty winds and dry lightning.

"Elevated moisture and instability from former Hurricane Genevieve will move over the region this weekend through early next week and bring the threat of elevated thunderstorms across much of Northern California," the National Weather Service warned. "A low pressure system off the coast may enhance and strengthen these thunderstorms allowing some to develop frequent lighting strikes and gusty erratic outflow winds."

SCU / CZU Lightning Complex Wildfires Burn Zones Map & Evacuations


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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