Thousands of Morgan Hill residents urged to evacuate as SCU Lightning Complex Fire burns around the region

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Monday, August 24, 2020
Thousands urged to evacuate as SCU Complex Fire burns in Santa Clara Co.
On Sunday afternoon CAL FIRE sent out an evacuation notice urging residents near Morgan Hill to evacuate amid the growing SCU Lightning Complex Fire. ABC7 News found some who were waiting until the last minute to leave.

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- It was the notice that thousands were dreading. Around 3 p.m. Sunday, CAL FIRE sent out an evacuation notice urging Jackson Oaks, Holiday Lake Estate and Thomas Grade residents to evacuate.

"It just instills a panic when you get that warning on your phone. You feel adrenaline rushing," said Jackson Oaks resident, Daniel Deschene.

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A rush that could be felt as cars drove down the hill as the SCU Lighting Complex Fire threatened their neighborhood eight miles away. Daniel Deschene along with 1,100 others were urged to get what matter to them most and go.

"We took personal belongings computers, medicine, clothes and you know anything that we could lose," said Deschene.

Empty driveways in the neighborhoods of Jackson Oaks, Holiday Lake Estate and Thomas Grade served as a reminder that even though the fire is not visible from their windows many were not willing to risk it.

VIDEO: How to prepare for a wildfire evacuation

If there's time, here is a list of essentials to take with you during a wildfire evacuation. Above all else, follow instructions given and get out of harm's way.

"A storm system that is coming in that is extremely erratic with wind and lightning. It's very unclear what that might do to the fires," said Maureen Tobin, City of Morgan Hill's PIO.

As the SCU Lightning Complex Fire continues to expand on the other side of this hill. Right in between it and 1,100 houses is the Anderson Lake, many hoping it'll become their saving grace.

CAL FIRE rushed up the hill to battle the blaze. ABC7 News drove up closer to the danger zone and found Ed Lehnert. He says at least 30 of his neighbors are staying back, tracking the expected lighting storm and the fire.

"We are looking at the fire maps and don't see nothing yet, but if we see fire we are gone," said Lehnert.

RELATED: Evacuees hope firefighters can control Walbridge Fire, but possible lightning strikes could pose setback

In these narrow and steep roads Lehnert knows anything can happen. He shared his backup plan with us.

"If a tree blocks the road or something we are planning on heading over to the big burned out area that burned up during the last fire. It's a nice big, huge area," said Lehnert.

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