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Some Left Homeless By CZU Complex Fire Still Without a Place to Live

DAVENPORT (KPIX) -- It's been ten months since the CZU Lightning Complex Fire ravaged parts of San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, but some people who lost their homes in that fire are still looking for a permanent place to live.

In a gravel lot along Highway 1 in Davenport, a few remaining evacuees from the fire are staying a makeshift encampment made up of cars, RVs, tents and buses.

Their numbers have dwindled over time, but the last holdouts have been living there for nearly a year.

"It's going to be years of work up there where we're at," said Bill Robinson.

Robinson says he was living and working the community of Last Chance, north of Davenport, when the fire forced him out.

He says the encampment was a place of last resort for people who had nowhere else to go.

"This lot was opened up for the few people who didn't have family or other places to go to. So, there was a handful of people who stayed here until they could get home. It started out with quite a few people here and then people started figuring out places they could go," Robinson explained.

It is a cruel but inescapable truth of wildfires that the damage done sometimes in a single night or in a matter of days can take years from which to recover.

"These winds -- they scare the heck out of you," said Cheri Perez, who was forced to evacuate. Perez said her home was spared, but her community's water system was damaged, requiring months of repair.

The devastation and the threat of the drought combined with a new fire season has taken its toll.

"Being on alert all the time now -- it's reality. It wasn't before. You would have never thought before this could happen. We've had fires before; we've watched the flames. But this one hit so close," she said.

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