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Officials provide update, share relief resources in 86,509-acre CZU Lightning Complex

San Mateo County and Cal Fire officials shared updates and resources on Wednesday with residents impacted by the CZU Lightning Complex, which is 84 percent contained.

About 77 participants gathered via Zoom, including County Manager Mike Callagy and Supervisor Don Horsley, who both praised Cal Fire, the county’s parks and volunteer organizations for their fire response.

Covering 86,509 acres in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, the CZU Lightning Complex is the largest fire in San Mateo County history. Though crews continue to build containment lines, progress is slow due to heavy, dense fire fuels and steep, rugged terrain.

At its peak, 2,394 firefighters were working on the fire, a fraction of the 6,000- to 7,000-person crew that would have been working under normal conditions, according to Cal Fire Deputy Chief Jonathan Cox. Given the multiple wildfires across the state sparked by over 12,000 lightning strikes on Aug. 16, Cal Fire’s resources were strained.

County of San Mateo San Mateo County, Calif. officials warn residents to avoid areas near the CZU Lightning Complex fire and use caution to avoid starting any new fires in the dry conditions.

Several communities in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties remain under evacuation warnings and orders. A full evacuation zone map can be found online.

Representatives from the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District (RCD) also attended the discussion.

The RCD’s Executive Director Kellyx Nelson encouraged affected residents to reach out to them for confidential, free technical assistance to help manage natural resources after the fires. They also manage fuel reduction projects such as a chipping program.

People can visit the RCD’s website at or email Conservation Program Manager Sheena Sidhu at for assistance.

Other fire recovery and preparedness resources include: The Fire Safe San Mateo County website at and the South Skyline Fire Safe Council at

Cal Fire Evacuation map for CZU Lightning Complex wildfires burning in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020.

Residents who sustained losses can also apply for federal assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The application is available at or by calling 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585. The deadline to apply for $500 in critical needs assistance is Sept. 12.

Though the local assistance center at Pescadero Elementary closed permanently on Wednesday night, residents can continue to access services at

Cox, the Cal Fire deputy chief, also encouraged residents to harden their home with non-ignitable materials and to create a defensible space around their property, two scientifically proven ways to protect property from wildfires.

People can also visit for more information on wildfire readiness.

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