CZU Lightning Complex Fire: 1 killed, 74,000 acres burned across San Mateo, Santa Cruz counties

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- According to CAL FIRE, one person has died amid the CZU Lightning Complex Fire that has scorched 74,000 acres in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.

The wildfire is 8% contained and officials say there are still 24,000 structures that are threatened. The lightning-caused fire, which started at 6:40 a.m. Aug. 16. has destroyed 162 structures in Santa Cruz County and 11 in San Mateo County, CAL FIRE said on Sunday night.

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ABC7 spoke to families who had to flee their homes amid the fast-moving blaze.

The Harris family evacuated from their Ben Lomond home on Thursday, ready for the worst. They packed five car loads of their most precious belongings and left the fire stricken area.

"I hope that the whole town... I hope they can stop it. A lot of our friends have been here for 50 years, 70 years. Mothers and sons living right next to each other," said Gabe Harris.

Gabe Harris drove up to an access point in Scott's Valley with his son, Gage Harris, two days after their evacuation. They were hoping to make it home and pick up a family heirloom.

"Our grandma got it for us. It's a game that some other family members and family had," said Gage Harris.

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Their car was covered in ashes and in the back seat were their most precious memories. "This is what my daughter wore when she was little and this is what my son wore to our wedding when we got married," described Gabe Harris.

Holding family picture frames Gage Harris described, "Some pictures of my mom. You know some family stuff. Sentimental stuff."

As the fire continues to grow, the CHP is blocking all access to residents who evacuated on Thursday.

The Harris family was hoping to get some peace of mind and see if their home made it through the night.

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We got their address and went past the check point and FaceTimed them to give them the news:

Luz: "I just want to let you know that we found your house and here it is right behind us. It's looking good. We just wanted to show you that you still have a home to come back to."
Gage and Gabe Harris laughed and said "thank you."

It was a sigh of relief even though they had prepared for the worst - taking a family photo minutes before evacuating.

"We were together in that moment and we were healthy. Even though we were walking away from some memories we have each other and it was good," said Gabe Harris.

The National Weather Service forecast for Sunday into Monday includes the possibility of dry lightning and dangerous wind gusts and continued hot and dry weather into next week.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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

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