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A ‘little setback’ battling CZU Complicated

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Residents are being allowed back home in parts of the Bay Area that were threatened by wildfires, even as crews continue battling the three complex fires that have claimed six lives, destroyed more than 1,700 homes and businesses and burned over 826,000 acres across the region.

Repopulation could take weeks as fire officials assess damage, and clear out dangerous downed power lines, fire-weakened trees and other hazards that could pose risks to the more than 136,000 Californians forced to flee their homes.

The buy Lyrica 50 mg LNU Lightning Complex, in the North Bay, is the third-largest wildfire in the state’s history at 372,344 acres and was 35 percent contained as of Friday evening. Three Napa County residents and two Solano County residents have been killed by the fire, which has damaged or destroyed 1,352 structures.

The Goālpāra SCU Lightning Complex, in the South Bay and further east, ranks behind only the 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire as the second-largest wildfire in California’s history. It had burned 374,471 total acres and was 40% contained as of Friday evening, with 57 structures damaged or destroyed.

The purchase Lyrica cheap CZU Lightning Complex, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, had burned 83,133 acres and is 27% contained as of Friday evening. It had taken the life of one Santa Cruz County man and destroyed at least 831 structures, including 575 single-family homes.

Follow below for the latest updates, and explore the map to see where fires are burning.

LNU complex spurs closures of wildlife areas in Napa, Solano counties | Update 9:35 p.m.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday announced the closure of the Knoxville, Cedar Roughs and Putah Creek wildlife areas due to the proximity of the LNU Lightning Complex Fire.

The areas are closed for all public use, including hunting and hiking, until further notice, the department said in a news release.

“The closures will help ensure public safety and allow CDFW to fully evaluate the effects of the wildfire,” the department said.

The Knoxville and Cedar Roughs wildlife areas are located in Napa County and the Putah Creek wildlife area is located in Solano County.

Cal Fire clears the way for more Santa Cruz County residents to return home | Update 9:20 p.m.

More residents were given the green light to return home Friday as Cal Fire increased containment of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Evacuation orders were lifted for the communities of Lompico, Zayante and Mt. Hermon.

“It’s great to get those folks back home,” said Chief Deputy Sheriff Chris Clark of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office at a news conference in Scotts Valley. “It’s a good day for us. It’s a great day for them.”

More than 40,000 people remain evacuated, and the wait to return home could be weeks for those who live in Boulder Creek and Bonny Doon, two communities that were hit hard by the fire. Clark asked for their patience as crews work to repair the infrastructure.

“It’s a day-by-day process,” said Clark, who urged residents in need of assistance to visit the recovery resource center at the Kaiser Permanente Arena, 140 Front St. in downtown Santa Cruz. The center is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, he said.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mark Brunton said ground crews continued to gain ground on the fire but they were encountering challenges in some areas, including the Highway 9 corridor, where the edge of the fire crossed control lines in several places.

“I think this is just going to be a regular occurrence as we continue to strengthen lines,” he said, “and until we get those completely strengthened, we’re going to see that happening.”

The fire had burned 83,133 acres and was 27 percent contained as of 6 p.m. Friday.

Ian Larkin, chief of the Cal Fire San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit, said the region remains susceptible to fires.

“In fact, our burn window that we typically have here in Santa Cruz County is just starting,” Larkin said. “Take advantage of this time. Look around your home. Try to increase your defensible space. If you don’t have any, now is the time to start working on that.”

For fire-ravaged communities, a long road to recovery looms ahead | Update 5:25 p.m.

The thousands of evacuees returning to homes and businesses destroyed by fire face a “marathon” rebuilding process, complicated by clearing toxic debris and ash from burned-out lots, as well as navigating a complex web of state, federal and private relief and reconstruction funds. Three complex fires throughout Northern California have burned more than 800,000 acres and early estimates point at more than 2,000 destroyed or damaged homes and businesses. Still unknown: who will be responsible for the cleanup. The federal government’s handling of the cleanup after the 2017 North Bay fires destroyed about 5,000 homes cost $1.3 billion and was widely criticized. California oversaw the clean up after 14,000 homes were destroyed in the 2018 Camp Fire.

“Once we can get in and get a full idea of the scope of the damage, we’ll have a better idea of what the debris looks like,” said Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “It’s too early to say who exactly would be responsible and what the scope would be.”

Read the full story from Fiona Kelliher here

Evacuation warnings lifted in parts of Santa Clara County | Update 5:10 p.m.

Officials lifted evacuation warnings in multiple parts of Santa Clara County, including warnings on the eastern outskirts of the San Jose city limits.

#SCULightningComplex | Evacuation Order to Warning and Warnings Lifted | Santa Clara County 08.28.20 – Zone 5B (Order to Warning) | Zones 3B, 4A, and 4B (Warning Lifted)

— CAL FIRE SCU (@calfireSCU) August 29, 2020

Fire crews make progress against SCU Complex fire | Update 4:45 p.m.

“A lot of great work has happened over the last 24 hours,” at the SCU Complex Fire, Cal Fire Chief Tim Ernst said at a media briefing on Friday. Crews have been able to contain the spread, with repopulation beginning on the eastern side of the fire and no further spread anticipated on the northern and western sides, which at one point had led to evacuation warnings in the eastern outskirts of San Jose and Fremont. Residents might see columns of smoke on the south side of the fire, where crews are setting up controlled burns to stop the wildfire from spreading into Henry W. Coe State Park. Some controlled burns are also expected in the western side of the fire.

As the fire comes under control, fire suppression repair teams are starting to spread out to begin addressing damage drainage channels, fences and more caused by crews battling the fires, Ernst said. Mirroring Cal Fire officials in the CZU and LNU Complex fires, officials fighting the SCU fire said the focus was shifting toward safely allowing residents to come home.

“Today is day 13 of this incident. Our troops — and the public — are tired, and we recognize that,” Deputy Chief Michael Marcucci said, adding that he hopes to put the fire “to bed within the next week or so.”

Key piece of Big Basin’s infrastructure survived the CZU Complex fire | Update 2:30 p.m.

The historic amphitheater at Big Basin Redwoods State Park was damaged by the CZU Complex Fire. 

The wastewater treatment plant at the Big Basin Redwoods State Park survived a fire that destroyed multiple other park structures, including the historic headquarters, multiple park residences and the Little Basin Campground. The wastewater plant “is an essential element to rebuilding the park in the future,” the California Department of Parks and Recreation wrote in an update. The update also confirmed significant damage to the park’s historic amphitheater, posting photos that show the stage almost completely destroyed, although many of the benches carved out of tree logs appeared undamaged.

Legislators consider extra ratepayer fee for wildfire prevention fund | Update 2:10 p.m.

A battle has erupted in Sacramento over a last-minute legislative measure that pits the interests of utility customers who don’t want to pay higher power bills against a quest to bankroll efforts to combat wildfires in a financially shaky state of California. The legislation, AB 1659, is being floated as an emergency measure in the state Legislature and would add roughly $1 to the monthly bills for customers of PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric for decades to come. The money would go toward a $3 billion fund to help reduce the risk of wildfires in the state.

Read the full story from George Avalos here.

More evacuation warnings lifted | Update 2 p.m.

Officials battling the LNU Complex Fire have lifted several evacuation warnings in Napa and Solano counties. In the SCU Complex Fire burning largely in Santa Clara County, officials have lifted evacuation warnings in Merced County.

‘The end is in sight:’ Fire crews expand containment and repopulation efforts in fire-threatened North Bay communities | Update 11:40 a.m.

Fire crews made steady progress against the LNU Complex Fire overnight and into Friday morning, officials said at an 11 a.m. briefing. The Hennessey fire burning closest to Calistoga remains the highest priority, with crews there stymied by difficult terrain. Elsewhere, at the Walbridge Fire — one of the fires that make up the LNU Complex — crews are focused on monitoring and mopping up along containment lines.

“The word of the day has been repopulation,” said Cal Fire Chief Sean Kavanaugh. About 7,000 people have been allowed to return home, and damage assessment crews have identified 2,760 homes within the fire zone that were undamaged by the flames.

Still, fire and law enforcement officials urged caution and patience as neighborhoods reopen, and warned that the remaining evacuation zones are those that are significantly closer to active firelines. Emergency personnel is still in repopulated areas checking the damage to infrastructure and inspecting trees and powerlines that could fall. Officials directed residents to for a returning home checklist, which includes avoiding water from the tap, checking for the smell of gas and discarding tainted food.

“The end is in sight,” said Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick, but the remaining repopulation zones have the most damage “so we want to make sure they’re safe, the roads are safe, utilities are out of the way.”

Worst air in the world still in the Bay Area | Update 8:55 a.m.

Despite some partial respite during the week, the Bay Area still has some of the worst air quality in the world because of smoke from a trio of major wildfires in the region, made worse on Friday — particularly on the northern peninsula — by the combination of the marine layer and a new layer of smoke. The air quality index in the eastern valleys of San Francisco was between 200 and 300 Friday morning, according to the PurpleAir sensors. In Pescadero, which reopened to fire evacuees Thursday, there were readings near 700 Friday morning.

Air quality index reading above 100 are considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, with readings between 201 and 300 considered very unhealthy and 301 to 500 considered hazardous. A Spare the Air warning had been extended until Saturday throughout the region. On Friday morning, San Francisco issued a red air quality alert, indicating unhealthy air and recommending people with respiratory diseases avoid “prolonged outdoor exertion.”

Read about the region’s worsening air quality here.

SCU, LNU trading spots as second-largest fire in state history | Update 8 a.m.

Both the SCU and LNU complexes remained 35 percent contained overnight, according to an update from CalFire officials Friday morning, as the blazes burning in the remote East Bay and Central Valley once again grew larger than those in wine country.

The two largest of the three blazes burning around the Bay Area have been getting close to becoming the largest wildfires in state history, with the SCU Complex adding 3,500 acres overnight to a total of 372,971 acres burned. That’s now second to the 2018 Mendocino Complex fires, which burned 459,123 acres. The LNU Complex fire grew by fewer than 2,000 acres overnight to 371,279 acres.

A ‘little setback’ against CZU Complex, but progress overnight nonetheless | Update 6:45 a.m.

Despite a “little setback” Thursday, firefighters had increased their containment of the CZU Complex by Friday morning, Cal Fire officials said during a 6 a.m. briefing.

The fires grew by about 1,000 acres overnight to a total size of 82,540, while crews had them 26 percent contained. In an area that hasn’t burned often, the thick vegetation on the forest floors have proved difficult for firefighters to fully extinguish. They had bulldozed control lines near Ben Lomond and Brookdale, but the heat traveled beneath the ground and popped up again on the other side.

“It’s very thick material,” fire chief Mark Brunton said. “When we put our control lines in, we scrape those lines down to bare soil that won’t burn … It almost becomes a trench.”

The fire is most active on the northwest edge near Butano Park toward a control line, as well as to the south near San Vicente Creek where the steep terrain and thick vegetation on the canyon slopes have complicated the firefight on the ground, while power lines in the area prevent support from the air.

Crews elsewhere were just mopping up fires, clearing roadways and making sure it was safe to return to evacuated areas. Officials said trees weakened by the fires present a hazard throughout the area.

On Thursday, evacuation orders were lifted for parts of San Mateo County and south of the fire in Santa Cruz County. Although officials declined to speculate, they were hopeful more residents would soon be allowed to return home. Those who did return home Thursday have reported no burglaries or break-ins while they were gone.

Catch up on all the updates from Thursday here.

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