Firefighters are getting a better understanding of the extent of the CZU August Lightning Complex fires and are making slow progress on containment. However, there is also more property loss as a result of the fires.
At the CalFire briefing Saturday morning, deputy chief Jonathan Cox said the fire is now understood to have burned 63,000 acres between Pescadero and the Santa Cruz area. “That was not due to intense fire growth but better mapping,” Cox said.
The fire is considered 5 percent contained. It has consumed 97 structures and another 24,000 are still threatened by the fire.
San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Detective Rosemerry Blankswade said there are eight teams of law enforcement and volunteers combing the evacuation area to protect against looting in the wake of the fire. She also pleaded with people to stay out of the fire zone and off the coast generally.
“Right now we need to keep those roadways open,” she said.
It was a message reiterated by CalFire Unit Chief Ian Larkin, who said progress on the fire lines shouldn’t be interpreted as an all-clear.
“This is a dynamic situation we’re in,” he said. “We’re moving into Day 7 and we have a 60,000-plus acre fire and 60,000 people evacuated. … We do have some concerning weather coming. Please stay out of the area.”
There was particularly good news for the northernmost limits of the fire. CalFire Operations Commander Mark Brunton said crews were able to establish some fire lines south of La Honda and Pescadero.
“It’s looking better there, but it’s still not out of the woods there,” he said.
Fire officials say the size of the fire and damage estimates will likely grow as they are better able to map what has already burned, but they were generally upbeat after Friday’s progress.
“We did have some more structure loss last night and that’s going to happen … but it was a really big win for us yesterday,” Brunton said. “Yesterday was the first day we’ve been able to get a little jump on the fire.”