Firefighters battle record wildfires in California after thousands of lightning strikes


A fire-ravaged neighborhood is seen in Boulder Creek, Calif., on August 25, 2020. But a number of evacuation orders have been lifted or downgraded to warnings in the Bay Area. One zone of the fire, the Deer Zone, is now 100% contained.

He had been reported missing and police had to use a helicopter to reach the area of about 40 off-the-grid homes at the end of a windy, steep dirt road north of the city of Santa Cruz.

"There's still a lot to be done out there on the fire line", Nichols said.

Wildfires ignited by more than 13,000 lightning strikes all across northern and central California since Aug 15 have killed at least seven people and destroyed over 1,200 homes and other structures.

Some 14,000 firefighters were deployed statewide to battle the blazes, according to the AP.

David Serna, 49, a firefighter with the Presidio of Monterey Fire Department, was battling a fire in that county when his rented home in Santa Cruz County burned to the ground.

The CZU Lightning Complex is said to be 21% contained, the SCU Lighting Complex at 30%, and LNU Lightning Complex at 33% containment. All were started by lightning.

A fire weather watch remains in effect for the CZU zone and the potential for new fires prompted officials to expand evacuation orders into Santa Clara County by Los Gatos.

Higher humidity and gentler winds helped firefighters get a grip on the fires, but temperatures and winds were expected to pick up in coming days.

"Short range spotting continues to be an issue due to dense brush fields with no burn history", Cal Fire wrote in today's briefing on the fire complex.

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However, the fire also jumped a highway and threatened homes in neighboring Yolo County near the community of Rumsey, prompting new evacuations Wednesday.

"You could overlay half of one of these fires and it covers the entire city of San Francisco", Bennett said Sunday.

More dry-lightning hit Northern California on Monday after sparking over 625 wildfires the past week but firefighters got some relief as temperatures eased off record highs. But he said it's always problematic for residents to stay or reenter evacuation zones, and sometimes they need to be rescued by official crews.

Santa Cruz County Sheriffs Office Chief Deputy Chris Clark sought to reassure people that looters wouldn't take advantage when areas are reopened.

"Thankfully we took our dogs and my daughter's bird with us and my girls thought of taking my jewelry box", she said.

He and county District Attorney Jeff Rosell expressed anger at what Rosell called the "absolutely soulless" of criminals victimizing people already victimized by the fire. And for those who escaped, the fires have still caused plenty of damage.

"There is nothing more stressful for evacuees than to know whether or not their home was able to survive the wildfire, and we're trying to provide that information as quickly as possible", said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director, chief of planning, risk analysis, fire engineering and investigations for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

"I can't imagine a bigger low-life", Hart said of the wallet-theft suspect, who remained at large and unidentified.

Jansen said she's resourceful and has learned from others, including a relative and neighbor who have been firefighters.