​SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) – An emotional day in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, as park and Cal Fire officials led Governor Gavin Newsom through the fire ravaged forest land. 

Thousands of people were evacuated out of the park two weeks ago when the CZU made its way through destroying several historic buildings and damaging the redwoods in its path.  

Cal Fire officials say it’s been more than 500 years since a state park sustained this much damage.  

“These trees are going to survive, but there are ecological changes that are going to happen from this event that we haven’t seen in european history on this land,” explained Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter.

Although there were still active flames in some parts of the park — Cal Fire says they’re feeling good about where they are with the CZU — crediting the change in weather for helping crews gain 72 percent containment.  But it’s clear the CZU delivered a significant blow to the oldest california state park. 

The new Director of California State Parks Armando Quintero surveyed the damage with the Governor, both delivered an optimistic outlook for the future of Big Basin.

“We are at a turning point having seen the devastation and the need to look at how we rebuild a park like this,” Quintero said.  

Governor Newsom adds, “I know when you see this images you feel stress pain and you’re anxious — cuz you feel like we’ve lost something forever, I want folks to know — we come and go — these trees though have been around for 13, 14, 1500 years. They have scars that make this fire look modest and they’re still standing. It’s a testament to mother nature and our resiliency and our optimism about our faith and future.”

Park officials estimate parks won’t be able to open back up to visitors for at least a year — and because of the hazards and damage they haven’t even begun to assess yet. 

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