How LNU, CZU & SCU Lightning Complex Bay Area fires got their names

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With all the fires burning in the Bay Area right now, you might be confused about what their names mean. Here's a primer on how wildfires get their name and what some of the current fire names refer to.

Wildfire names are often chosen by dispatchers, though the first crew on the scene may also name the fire. A wildfire is typically named for a nearby landmark, often a road, a lake or a mountain. The recent Carr, Camp and Woolsey fires, for example, were all named for roads in the vicinity.

Multiple fires can break out in one place, like when lightning strikes multiple times in a certain area. In that case, you'll hear those fires referred to as a "complex." The complex will often take the name of either the biggest fire in the group, the area in which it is burning or the cause of the fire.

MAPS: Here's where the CZU, LNU, SCU Complex fires are burning


Right now, for example, firefighters are battling the LNU Lightning Complex and the CZU Lightning Complex fires. The initials in these names refer to different units of CAL FIRE that are divided geographically along county lines: LNU is the Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit, CZU is San Mateo-Santa Cruz and SCU is Santa Clara, which includes the counties of Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa and parts of Stanislaus and San Joaquin. You might also see BEU, which is the San Benito-Monterey unit.

To put it all together: LNU Lightning Complex Fire refers to a group of North Bay fires burning in the same region that were sparked by lightning while the CZU Lightning Complex and SCU Lightning Complex fires are East and South Bay fires sparked by lightning.

INTERACTIVE: ABC7 News Wildfire Tracker

App users: For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window

Get the latest updates and videos on the CZU, LNU and SCU Lightning Complex Fires here.

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