CZU Lightning Complex fire evacuees begin to return home

Wildfires

(KRON) – The CZU Lightning Complex fire has burned more than 81,000 acres in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.

More than 700 structures have been destroyed, 82 damaged, and one person has died. 

Cal Fire officials say containment is up at 24-percent.

Fire officials are now giving the go-ahead for people to return to their homes in some communities affected by the CZU Complex fire.

In San Mateo County, thousands of people living in the areas of La Honda, San Gregorio and Pescadero are now allowed to come back.

They were given the green light around noon Thursday.

Fire officials want people to take caution as they return and the people KRON4 spoke with here are thankful the orders were finally lifted.

Cars were filled with evacuees making their way back into their communities. Signs welcoming their return.

A week ago, the fires forced them to leave behind their homes and property.

“It was like a war zone because you could get out but couldn’t get back in,” Ryan Zweng said.

La Honda resident Ryan Zweng is happy to be back, just days ago he was stunned by seeing the large fires burning sending huge plumes of smoke into the sky.

Thankfully nothing of his was damaged or destroyed.

The area prides itself on being tight knit. Skywood Trading Post is especially glad to see their customers return.

Maurice Nasrah is grateful they were spared and appreciates the work the firefighters are doing.

The sheriff’s office has so far not reported any thefts or looting in these areas, however, deputies will continue to patrol to make sure that doesn’t happen.

In Santa Cruz County, evacuation orders are also gradually being lifted.

People in Scotts Valley are returning home for the first time in a week.

This area was a ghost town but law enforcement opened some roads.

Not all of Scotts Valley are allowed back yet.

It will take days and weeks until other orders are lifted.

There is still a lot of work to be done but officials understand people want to get home.

KRON4 caught up with evacuees unpacking their cars.

One couple says they stayed at a hotel in San Jose for a discounted rate just for wildfire evacuees.

Another woman stayed with a friend but these neighbors left without knowing what they would come back to.

Cal Fire CZU tweeted a video warning people about the hazards in the hard hit areas.

It will take weeks for areas like Felton, Ben Lomand, Boulder Creek to repopulate.

There’s weakened trees, power lines down, and damage assessment teams are making their way around the burn zones.

They want to make sure it’s safe before people can come home.

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