UC Santa Cruz on-campus residents threatened with 'criminal offense' for failure to evacuate

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."

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Friday, August 21, 2020
UC Santa Cruz forced to evacuate amid wildfires
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."

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Evacuation orders have expanded in Santa Cruz County.

The CZU August Lightning Complex fires have torched close to 50,000-acres between Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.

Scotts Valley residents and the UC Santa Cruz campus were the latest to be evacuated, Thursday evening.

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

In Boulder Creek, video captured homes that were actively burning, and charred cars. It's this fiery scene that continued to force mandatory evacuations throughout the region.

Since igniting, the devastation and on-going danger has led to the evacuation of close to 50,000 people, according to Cal Fire.

"We're hearing about Bonnie Doon. We're hearing about some of the other fires," Scotts Valley resident, Robert Perala told ABC7 News. "We're standing guard the best way we know how."

For Perala, the best way to stand guard now, means getting out of town.

Official evacuation orders for the city came down after 6 p.m. on Thursday.


"I've never seen anything in Scotts Valley like this before," Perala added.

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.

After 7:30 p.m., UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) announced all of its employees and students living on-campus were to leave immediately.

According to Scott Hernandez-Jason with UCSC, about 1,200 people live on-campus.

Any access to the on-campus residencies are now limited to first responders and people who have been authorized.

The university's release read, "UC Santa Cruz Police Officers will be going door to door to evacuate those remaining on campus."

Residents were told they should be prepared to not return for at least two weeks.

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: Staggering photos show scope of wildfires' devastation

For students and staff looking for some direction, UCSC offered the following:

"An evacuation center for UC Santa Cruz students and employees living on campus is in the Coconut Grove at the Boardwalk (use entrance B), 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz. Parking is in the lot adjacent to the Coconut Grove.

To reach the evacuation center at the Boardwalk, individuals may drive, walk, bicycle, or use a bus, if available. Please exit the main entrance at Bay Street and High Street to leave the campus.

Campus transit shuttles or Metro route 19 are available for those on campus to get to the Boardwalk. Please go to the nearest loop transit stop to board a shuttle or bus."

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.

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

"Because of COVID, our shelter capacity is limited," he explained. "We are putting people inside tents, inside the shelter to control the pandemic and the disaster at the same time."

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

Staff at the Quality Inn on Ocean Street told ABC7 News they were completely sold out to displaced residents. A nearby Holiday Inn was in the same predicament.

"We just want to clear out whatever we can to make space for local residents to access those hotels," Hoppin added.

The county also wants to keep its roads clear, understanding there is very little access in and out of the region.

"We don't want a bunch of people clogging up the streets, driving around town at this moment," Hoppin shared. "It's not safe even to be outside at this moment because of the level of smoke."

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

As of Cal Fire's latest update, the fire is zero-percent contained. It has torched 48,000-acres. Flames continue to threaten nearly 21,000 structures, forcing even more residents out of their homes.

Cal Fire Incident Commander, Billy See told reporters, "We need to be cognizant that we're in historic times in this fire that we're dealing with on this coastline."

Hoppin added, if those outside Santa Cruz County want to donate, people can send items to the county's general services warehouse: Emeline complex, 1082 Emeline Ave., Santa Cruz.

By choosing delivery, people won't clog up roads, and won't find themselves in any danger.

Roberson said they used to cater everyday, now they get a catering call once a week.

"Our catering business is dried up- gone- of course, and then with these fires with these fires starting, it's just been horrendous," Roberson said.

"There's just not enough that we can miss anything- really. We're already missing a lot. And then to have another hit like this is just tremendous," Roberson said.

Roberson said they'll get through it. He appreciates all the support from the community and has no plans on closing.

"Absolutely not, we will not shut down. We haven't shut down nor anticipate it. My employees were not laid off. Every one of them were working. I've had a number that are about to go back to college and I just hired five new people this week ," Roberson said.