CZU Lightning Complex Fire: 2 still missing as crews continue to make progress in Santa Cruz, San Mateo counties

Julian Glover Image
Thursday, August 27, 2020
2 still missing from evacuation zones in Santa Cruz County
"It's a slow, painstaking process. But we're getting there": Growth slows as CZU Complex Fire in Santa Cruz, San Mateo counties threatens 23,000 structures.

SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Two men are still missing as nearly 2,000 firefighting personnel continue to make progress on the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.

CAL FIRE held a 6 a.m. update Thursday, saying the fire grew by less than 200 acres overnight.

"The weather has really mitigated the progression of the fire, which is good, but as far as the operation to fully extinguish it, it's a slow, painstaking process. But we're getting there," said CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Mark Brunton.

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The latest information released from CAL FIRE shows the CZU Lightning Complex Fire is 81,333 acres with containment at 21 percent as of Thursday morning.

At least 646 structures have been destroyed and 23,000 are threatened, according to CAL FIRE.

"Eleven of those structures are in San Mateo County and 635 of them are in Santa Cruz County," said Jonathan Cox, deputy chief for CAL FIRE's San Mateo and Santa Cruz unit.

RELATED: Check if your home was damaged by CZU, LNU Complex Fires in Santa Cruz, Napa, Solano, Lake counties

For the first time we also heard officials talk a out "repopulation". The evacuation order for UC Santa Cruz has been lifted. They say within the next 48-hours we could see more areas removed from evacuation zones.

"As residents begin to return home, remember to drive carefully as fire crews and emergency personnel are still working in the area. There are approximately 74,000 residents evacuated," posted CAL FIRE on its website.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Track wildfires across Bay Area, other parts of CA

Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Chris Clark said one missing person had been found alive. The search continues for two others. The department released photos of Shane Smith and Micah Szoke in an effort to find them.

Smith and Szoke both lived in evacuation zones in Santa Cruz County. The sheriff's office is asking anyone with information of their whereabouts to call their non-emergency dispatch line at (831) 471-1121.

RELATED: CZU Complex Fire evacuees deal with more than displacement, COVID-19 concerns limit options

"We encourage if you have heard from those two people, if you recognize them or if you know them -- have them call us," said Clark. "We would greatly appreciated."

VIDEO: Dozens of homes destroyed by wildfire in Santa Cruz County

In the tight-nit community of Bonny Doon, are dozens of homes that are among the more than 200 structures destroyed by CZU Lightning Complex Fire.

The CZU Lightning Complex Fire has been burning since Aug. 16.

CAL FIRE says "low overnight winds, increased humidity and effective firing operations helped firefighters hold and bolster containment lines".

"The fire is slowly creeping down toward our control line where we can best take advantage of suppression activities," added Brunton.

WATCH: Big Basin Redwoods, California's oldest state park, devastated by CZU Lightning Complex; Fate of ancient trees unknown

California's oldest state park, housing a forest of ancient redwood trees, was devastated by wildfires that ravaged the Bay Area this week.

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