SCU Fires 25 Percent Contained

Firefighters made significant progress against the SCU Complex in the past day, bringing 25 percent of it under control and allowing Cal Fire to east some evacuation orders.

At more than 365,000 acres across seven counties—north to south from the Tri-Valley to Salinas Valley, west to east from the South Bay to I-5—it remains the biggest fire still burning in California. It’s also the second-largest in the state’s recorded history.

The group of fires devouring the rugged backcountry east of Silicon Valley was sparked last week in a rare August lightning storm, growing from 20 smaller fires into a massive complex categorized into three sectors: Deer, Canyon and Calaveras zones.

In Contra Costa County, the Deer Zone is 100 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

Mother Nature helped the 1,655 firefighters assigned to the SCU Complex rein it in, Cal Fire reported in one of its daily briefings. Toward the end of the day Tuesday, thanks to increased humidity, fire crews managed to hold the control line and add new breaks.

However, the state firefighting agency noted, “deep-seated heat still remains in the bottom of the steep, inaccessible drainages.”

Heads up: when weather permits, Cal Fire plans to ignite a controlled burn inside the control line, which will widen the buffers and lick up more fuel.

“If residents see large columns of smoke it most likely will be from the controlled burn,” the agency reported today.“Fire crews and aircraft will continue to mitigate hazards and spots today. We remind the public that if they are repopulated that fire crews may still be working in the area and to be cautious while driving.”

The priority today, as ever, is to protect heavily populated areas, including the South Bay, by preventing the fires from escaping its mostly rural expanse.

So far, the fires have razed 31 building, damaged six more and injured five people.

In the mountains overlooking Silicon Valley from the south and west, the CZU Complex saw limited growth to about 80,000 acres. But the nearly 1,700 firefighters assigned to the blaz managed to bump up containment to 19 percent, thanks to milder weather.

The fires that ran through the Santa Cruz Mountains have been far more destructive, destroying more than 440 buildings and damaging 43 others. One person has died.

Fires known as the LNU Lightning Complex have killed five people and injured several more up in the North Bay. Today, it surpassed 357,000 acres, with a third of it under control, according to the morning update from Cal Fire.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

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