Boulder Creek residents devastated over losing their homes as CZU Lightning Complex fire continues to burn

ByJulian Glover and Kris Reyes KGO logo
Saturday, August 22, 2020
Devastation over homes lost to CZU Lightning Complex fire
The Immel family were told to leave their home in Boulder Creek on Wednesday morning. On Thursday, they returned to rubble.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- The massive CZU Lightning Complex fires grew from 48,000 to 50,000 acres overnight. More than 64,000 people have evacuated in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties and blazes that still have no containment. Officials say it could be weeks before residents are allowed to return home.

Firefighters say the marine layer helped overnight, but they expect breezy conditions today that could hamper their efforts. CAL FIRE says the blaze has grown at a rate of 700 to 1,000 acres an hour over the past couple of days.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Track wildfires across San Francisco, other parts of CA

Firefighters had to rescue three separate parties last night who were trying to protect property in evacuation zone. They are warning others to not to do this because it's a drain on precious resources. Officials said they will patrol neighborhoods after they have been evacuated.

The Immel family were told to leave their home in Boulder Creek on Wednesday morning. On Thursday, they returned to rubble.

"We had one of the CAL FIRE people come up in trucks via broadcasting from their trucks get out, time is now, get out," said Andy Immel, who lived in his home for 42 years.

RELATED: Vacaville family who fled wildfire returns to find 'forever home' destroyed

CAL FIRE is warning that residents could be out of their homes for weeks as they fight a historic fire with resources stretched thin. Almost a week in, the fire is still 0% contained.

"That just goes to show that we don't have the resources on it that we would normally. If this was a normal situation where this was the only fire in the state, we would have more resources," said Cecil Juliette, CAL FIRE public information officer.

So far, 64,000 people have been evacuated in both Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties. The fire is threatening 24,000 plus structures.

50 structures have already been destroyed, but officials expect that number to rise significantly.

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the blaze.

VIDEO: Bay Area shrouded in smoke as Northern California wildfires rage

From Oakland to Point Reyes, smoke enveloped the Bay Area as fires scorched Northern California.

Evacuation orders were expanded last night in Santa Cruz County. Scotts Valley residents and the UC Santa Cruz campus were forced to leave. UCSC warned, "Any person who enters the residential campus, a closed off area or remains in the area after being ordered to evacuate may be found guilty of a criminal offense." An evacuation center at the boardwalk is being made available for displaced staff and students.

RELATED: CZU, LNU, SCU Lightning Complex Fire maps: See active fires in the Bay Area today

However, the need for shelter expands far beyond the college campus. Jason Hoppin with Santa Cruz County said it's putting out requests for donations of water and family-sized tents.

The county is also asking visitors to stay away. Hoppin explained any out-of-towners staying overnight impact available shelter for evacuees.