More than 3,600 San Mateo County residents have been ordered to leave their homes as the result of “historic” fires on the South Coast that have also spread deep into Santa Cruz County. Those evacuation orders now include Pescadero, La Honda, San Gregorio and the red barn area along Highway 84.
“It’s an historic event. We have not seen fires burn like this in this unit for many, many years and those fires were much smaller than what we have here today,” said CalFire Unit Chief Ian Larkin in a 6 p.m. news briefing from Scotts Valley.
In all, nearly 50,000 people have been evacuated as a result of a series of fires that began with lightning strikes over the weekend. There are 997 firefighters engaged in the battle against CZU August Lightning Complex fires.
Fire officials say about 50 structures have burned. Three firefighters have been injured in the fight. And on Thursday, there was a minor vehicle crash involving fire vehicles, according to CalFire spokesman Jonathan Cox.
The fire has been spreading in multiple directions, sometimes growing at a rate of 1,000 acres an hour. The University of California, Santa Cruz, was put on evacuation warning. Meanwhile, officials said a northern part of the fire was “encroaching” upon Pescadero. Wind patterns at present are north to south and humidity in the Santa Cruz mountains ranges from 40 to 68 percent at present.
Firefighters are expecting more growth in the fire overnight as winds freshen. Forecasters are expecting a return of the marine layer overnight, but only along the coastline. Winds are expected to blow at 10 to 20 mph overnight.
While the fire continues to spread, firefighters were able to take advantage of what officials called “favorable” weather today. It was slightly cooler and more humid on Thursday.
There are at least two missing people known to be behind fire lines, officials say. They emphasized that people should stay out of evacuation areas and not return until given the all clear.