CZU Lightning Complex Fire is 100% contained, but not controlled

Midpen rangers spray areas of the CZU Lightning Complex fire near Old Haul Road (Courtesy of Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District)

After more than a month of burning, Cal Fire officials announced Tuesday evening that the CZU Lightning Complex incident is 100% contained. However, officials were quick to point out, that does not necessarily mean controlled. 

Fire officials said they will continue to monitor the fire for smoldering areas. 

California's premature wildfire season was sparked by a freak lightning storm on August 16. The CZU fire burned some 86,500 acres in south San Mateo County and north Santa Cruz County. 

There was one civilian claimed as a fatality in this blaze, which is minimal by comparison to California's other wildfires. However, it did destroy as many as 925 homes. Nearly 1,000 residents remain evacuated. 

Officials said 171 non-residential commercial buildings were destroyed by the fire. A total of 81 fire personnel remain assigned in the battle against this fire with as many as 10 engines still working. Cooperating agencies included; American Red Cross, California Highway Patrol, California Conservation Corps, California Army National Guard, PG&E and California State Parks. 

The CZU Lightning Complex fire was much smaller in stature than the two massive lightning complex fires that were sparked just days after the initial fire. Those fires are the LNU Lightning Complex Fire, which has burned 363,220 acres. That fire includes parts of Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo and Solano counties. The other is the 396,624 acre SCU Lightning Complex Fire, which includes parts of Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties. Both fires have stood at 98% containment for some time. 

The wildfires have produced frighteningly, discolored skies from smoke and some of the worst air quality on record in the Bay Area. Not to mention, the record for the most consecutive Spare the Air days. 

The lightning complex fires would later be dwarfed by the 851,061 acre August Complex Fire sparked on August 22 in Humboldt and Mendocino counties. That fire is at 38% contained as of Tuesday. 

There are still evacuation orders in place for San Mateo County, but no evacuation warnings. 


  • Butano Community area (Zone: SMC-E098B)
  • Butano State Park including Barranca Knolls Community (Zone: SMC-E019) (SMC-E38C)

In Santa Cruz County, evacuation warnings and orders are still in place. 


  • Areas in Boulder Creek and Brookdale (Zones: CRZ-E010B, CRZ-E013C)
  • Big Basin Way, San Lorenzo Park, Upper State Route 236 area (Zones: CRZE013C)
  • Lower Jamison Creek Road (Zone: BOU-E020)
  • New Zone: (CRZ-E010D) Upper China Grade
  • Boulder Creek Golf Course Area (Zones: BOU-E022, BOU-E030, BOU-E031)
  • Upper HWY 236 past Waterman Gap Loop, Heartwood Hill, Lodge Road,
  • Community of Little Basin, Lower China Grade, Upper China Grade, Gallion
  • Heights, Fallen Leaf Neighborhood, Foxglove Lane (Zones: BOU-E036, BOUE037)


  • Chalk Mountain (Zone: CRZ-E001)
  • Waddel Creek, Swanton, Molina Creek (Zones: CRZ-E003B, CRZ-E010C)

Officials said the repopulation effort continues to be complicated due to areas affected by the fire causing damaged utilities and compromised trees. 

There are no shelters currently open in San Mateo County. Santa Cruz County does have one at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds at 2601 E. Lake Avenue in Watsonville. 

Road Closures:
San Mateo County

Canyon Road at Cloverdale Road

Gazos Creek at Cloverdale Road

Santa Cruz County

Lower State Route 236 at Little Basin Road
China Grade Road at Mile Post Marker 1.71

Upper SR-236 at Waterman Gap Loop
Swanton Road is closed at the junction of Highway 1/Davenport Landing Road to Last Chance Road. The northern section of Swanton Road is open from Highway 1 to Last Chance Road.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated said nearly 1,000 residents in total were evacuated from the fire and that 81 fire personnel was the cumulative of firefighters to battle this complex fire. A correction has been made. We regret this error.