Evacuation order lifted for most of Guerneville

The Chronicle’s Fire Updates page documents the latest events in wildfires across the Bay Area and the state of California.

The Chronicle’s Fire Map and Tracker provides updates on fires burning throughout California, including these huge lightning-sparked blazes aflame around the Bay Area:

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• SCU Complex fires that began Aug. 16 and affect steep terrain of Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties: 369,471 acres and 35% contained.

• CZU Complex fires that began Aug. 17, affecting the Santa Cruz mountains and Santa Cruz and San Mateo County coastal areas: 81,333 acres and 21% contained.

• LNU Complex fires that began Aug. 17, affecting the Healdsburg and Russian River areas; Lake, Yolo and Solano counties; and Napa and Sonoma wine country: 368,868 acres and 33% contained.

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Latest Updates from today:

7 p.m. Evacuation order reduced to warning in portions of Napa County for LNU Complex: Cal Fire said that an evacuation order has been reduced to an evacuation warning for the following areas: Deer Park Road from the upper end of Sanitarium Road to the intersection of Deer Park Road, Howell Mountain Road, and White Cottage Road; and Howell Mountain Road (also known as Old Howell Mountain Road) from Conn Valley Road to the intersection of Howell Mountain Road, Deer Park Road, and White Cottage Road. Cal Fire officials asked people to remain alert of fire activity in the area, and to drive slow and yield to first responders in the area. Cal Fire officials said White Cottage Road and Howell Mountain Road northeast into Angwin will remain under an evacuation order.

6:40 p.m. East Bay fires update: The SCU Lightning Complex fires grew modestly Thursday, adding less than 1,000 acres to reach a total 369,471 acres scorched across seven counties since the wildfire started on Aug. 16. A total of 28 structures have been destroyed. Nearly 2,000 firefighters are working the fire.

6:25. p.m. Evacuation order downgraded to warning for much of Guerneville: Sonoma County sheriff’s officials said the evacuation order for most of Guerneville was downgraded to an evacuation warning on Thursday. The order was downgraded to warning for the following areas: North of the Russian River, south of Rio Nido Road at Armstrong Woods Road, west of Foothill Boulevard at River Road, and east of Old Cazadero Road. Sheriff’s officials warned that residents returning to Guerneville must use Highway 116/Pocket Canyon, Bohemian Highway or Highway 1. River Road remains closed from Hacienda Bridge to the intersection of Foothill Boulevard at River Road, officials said. Authorities also said residents may return “at your own risk” and that these areas are still at risk from the fires blazing in the area. The following areas still remain under evacuation orders: the community of Rio Nido; the area of Old Cazadero Road north of Old Cazadero Road at Chimney Rock Road; and Pool Ridge Road.

6:00 p.m. Mapping the toll of the LNU fires: Cal Fire officials have begun the process of mapping out the status of homes and other structures within the area of the LNU Lightning Complex fires. The Cal Fire link identifies where homes or other buildings have been destroyed, damaged or without damage. The map does not identify addresses, but allows the user to zoom in to see street names and other features like lakes.

3:09 p.m. How to evacuate safely with your pets: Animals are just as vulnerable to the hazards of wildfires as their owners — from burns and smoke inhalation to secondary complications from evacuations. But there are ways to mitigate those risks, experts say, and it begins with a little bit of preparation. Read the whole story here.

3:05 p.m. Evacuation orders lifted for all of Scotts Valley in CZU Complex: Cal Fire announced that evacuation orders related to the CZU Lightning Complex were lifted for all of Scotts Valley, including unincorporated areas of Scotts Valley. Evacuation orders have also been lifted in Paradise Park and the Cave Gulch area, Cal Fire said. “Please exercise caution when returning to your residences, as the City of Scotts Valley will continue to serve as the fire operations base camp,” Cal Fire said in a statement. “Expect to see a tremendous amount of emergency vehicles and fire personnel in the City while the fire continues to be battled in the San Lorenzo Valley.”

12:57 p.m. Regulators search for answers on rolling blackouts: California utility regulators expect to publish an analysis in a few weeks about what caused the state’s recent rolling blackouts. They are pushing back at the idea that renewable energy was responsible. Read the story here.

11:21 a.m. August numbers staggering, with worst months of fire season to come: Cal Fire officials presented a stark picture of the 2020 fire season Thursday. To date, over 1.6 million acres have burned since Aug. 16. Last year at this time, that number was 55,000 acres. Since Aug. 15, 700 fires have sparked statewide — with 46 new fires in the last 24 hours.

11:15 a.m. LNU Complex firefight continues near Middletown: Cal Fire officials focused on the LNU Complex fire in Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Lake and Yolo counties said they were again focused on a region south and east of Middletown, currently the most intense front of that fire fight. Other areas affected by the LNU Complex are better off, with residents beign invited back to their homes.

10:57 a.m. Unhealthy conditions in air quality forecast: The air quality forecast for most of the Bay Area calls for unhealthy conditions for everyone in the inland portions of the East Bay and the Santa Clara Valley, with the air unhealthy for people with sensitivities and health conditions that make it more difficult to breathe in the rest of the region. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Spare the Air alert warning of unhealthy air through Friday.

8:22 a.m. LNU Complex grows 1,000 acres overnight: The inferno has burned 368,868 acres in five North Bay counties, while containment remained steady Thursday morning at 33%. About 2,300 first responders are fighting the fire, which has killed five people and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings.

7:30 a.m. SCU Complex grows, but so does containment: The SCU Complex, which has torched parts of seven Bay Area counties, grew by 1,300 acres overnight, to 368,671 in total. Containment improved, too, from 30% to 35%, Cal Fire said in an update Thursday morning.

7:23 a.m. Two men who live in evacuation zones missing in Santa Cruz County: Authorities asked for anyone with information on the whereabouts of Shane Smith, 21, and Micah Szoke, 37, to call the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office at 831-471-1121. A third man who was missing was found alive Wednesday.

6:08 a.m. More progress against CZU Complex: The cluster of fires burning in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties grew by fewer than 200 acres overnight, Cal Fire officials said, to just over 81,000 acres in total. The fires are still 21% contained. Firefighteres are hoping to make progress again Thursday and continue cleanup efforts to slowly repopulate communities. Still, more than 23,000 structures remain threatened.

Updates from Wednesday, Aug. 26

9:15 p.m. ‘Successful day’ of firefighting efforts for CZU Lightning Complex: Cal Fire Operations Chief Mark Brunton said that firefighters had “another good, successful day of suppression of the fire” on Wednesday, but said weather conditions did not allow for the desired amount of aircraft support on the CZU Lightning Complex. Brunton said that crews were “only able to drop about 10,000 gallons of water” on the fires, but said Cal Fire officials are hopeful about weather conditions over the next few days that may allow more aircraft operations.

7:45 p.m. LNU Complex burns 360,868 acres: Cal Fire said the LNU, which is burning in Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo and Lake counties, has burned 360,868 acres and was 33% contained as of Wednesday evening. The fires have destroyed 1,080 structures, damaged 272 structures, and are threatening another 30,500 structures. Cal Fire said 2,292 personnel are battling the blazes along with 292 engines, 68 water tenders, 13 helicopters and 68 dozers. Officials said extreme fire behavior with “short and long range spotting” continues to challenge firefighters. The Hennessey and Walbridge fires, which are part of the complex, are making “runs in several directions, impacting surrounding communities,” Cal Fire said in an incident update on Wednesday evening. Five civilians have died in connection to the complex, and four civilians have been injured, Cal Fire said.

7:30 p.m. One man cited for returning to CZU Complex evacuation area, getting lost, requiring rescue: Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Chris Clark said that one man in his 70s was cited today for trying to return to his evacuated home and getting lost while navigating a trail in the outskirts of the evacuated zone. “He got into an area that was very steep,” Clark said. “Luckily for him, he literally survived two nights in the woods.”

7:15 p.m. CZU Complex burns 81,137 acres: Cal Fire said the CZU, which is burning in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, burned 81,137 acres and was 21% contained as of Wednesday evening. The fires have destroyed 408 residences, damaged 39 residences, and are threatening another 24,323 structures. Cal Fire said an infrastructure crew is working to open roads, clear hazardous trees and restore utilities. Damage inspection teams have inspected 55% of the burned area, according to Cal Fire. Officials said 1,982 personnel are currently responding to the fires along with 198 engines, 32 water tenders, 12 helicopters, and 23 dozers.

7:10 p.m. SCU Complex burns 367,371 acres: The SCU Lightning Complex — which is burning in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced and San Benito counties — has burned 367,371 acres and was 30% contained as of Wednesday evening, according to a Cal Fire incident update. The fires have destroyed 20 structures, damaged six structures, and are threatening another 20,065 structures.

6:24 pm Uber and Lyft offer free rides in fire areas: Uber and Lyft are both offering free rides in areas affected by wildfires. Uber riders in the affected cities can use the code CAFIRE2020 for rides anywhere. Lyft riders can use CAFIRERELIEF20 for rides to designated evacuation centers. Each service offers two free rides per person.

6 p.m. When is it OK to go outside if it’s smoky in the Bay Area? Wildfire smoke across the Bay Area has made outdoor activities difficult and even dangerous at times. Air quality and health experts offer advice to help assess when adults and children can safely go outside, and what level of activities they can engage in.

6 p.m. Evacuation orders for CZU Complex lifted for UC Santa Cruz: Cal Fire officials announced Wednesday evening that evacuation orders related to the CZU Lightning Complex have been lifted for UC Santa Cruz. Cal Fire said that the university will “resume operations through a phased opening as determined by the chancellor and the chief of police.” Officials warned residents to be cautious of emergency vehicles and crews are still operating in the area.

5:38 p.m. Quinlan Temporary Evacuation Point in Santa Clara County to close tonight: Santa Clara County officials said Wednesday that the Quinlan Temporary Evacuation Point will be closed at 10 p.m. tonight. Evacuees impacted by the SCU and CZU Lightning complexes can instead seek assistance at two other temporary evacuation points at Milpitas Library (located at 160 N. Main Street in Milpitas) and Ann Sobrato High School (located at 401 Burnett Avenue in Morgan Hill), county officials said.

5:20 p.m. State Insurance Commissioner directs companies to expedite claims filed by wildfire victims: “Wildfire survivors need immediate help as they start on the long road to recovery,” California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said as he issued an emergency notice Wednesday, requesting that all property and casualty insurance companies operating within the state speed up claims related to these out-of-control blazes. He also asked companies to ease deadlines and documentation requirements for fire victims, allowing them to rebuild and restore their lives more quickly.

5:20 p.m. Residents in eight Northern California counties can apply for federal aid: Residents impacted by the fires blazing in Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties can now apply for federal assistance. To apply for individual assistance from FEMA, go to www.disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621- 3362. See Kathleen Pender’s Net Worth column for details.

5:10 p.m. Governor signs executive order to extend deadline for 2022 elections: Given the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires raging across the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to extend the deadline for county officials to count and certify signatures for initiatives seeking to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. Such flexibility will allow counties to focus on this year’s general election, much of which will be conducted by mail.

4:45 p.m. Vacaville man identified as a victim of LNU Complex: Vacaville resident Douglas Mai , 82, was identified by the Solano County Sheriff’s Office as one of the county’s victims who died in the LNU Lightning Complex fires blazing in the county, according to sheriff’s spokesman Le’Ron Cummings. The man’s remains were found in his Vacaville home, Cummings said.

3:30 p.m. Evacuation order reduced to evacuation warning in portions of Napa County for LNU Complex: Cal Fire reduced an evacuation order to an evacuation warning for the area between Rosedale Road and south to Deer Park Road. Evacuation orders remain in place for Crystal Springs Road, Glass Mountain Road and Deer Park Road. All other evacuation orders remain in place, Cal Fire said.

3:15 p.m.: Cal Fire officials said they’ve made good progress on the SCU Fire, which covers seven counties. Officials said while they are seeing more containment, there’s still a “long road ahead of us.” They also mentioned how fatigued firefighters are after more than a week of battling the blazes. About 1,600 firefighters are fighting the conflagration. Cal Fire Unit Chief Jake Hess said that his agency is coordinating with many others on decisions about when residents can return. “We are not going to keep those warnings out there any longer than we have to,” Hess said.

2:30 p.m. NASA satellites show wildfire smoke spreading far beyond California borders: Recent satellite images released by NASA vividly show the impact of California’s huge lightning-sparked wildfires not just across the state but across the country. The space agency’s Terra satellite on Monday captured a view that showed a pall of wildfire smoke covering most of California. NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite provided another sobering image showing heavy levels of aerosols from California wildfire smoke extending all the way to Minnesota and Nebraska. See the images and read more.

1:14 p.m. Twelve condors missing after sanctuary destroyed: The Ventana Wildlife Society, which helped bring the California condor back from the brink of extinction four decades ago, was destroyed by wildfires. The fate of a dozen condors is currently unknown, sanctuary officials said. “Condor Camera” footage shows what could be one chick’s last moments.

11:25 a.m. Middletown area the ‘top priority’ for LNU Complex fire: Cal Fire officials overseeing the LNU Complex blazes covering areas of Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo and Solano counties said the “top priority” for firefighters Wednesday would be an area just south of Middletown, where the Walbridge fire continues to burn. That region, on the northwest part of the fire cluster, represented “the last significant piece” of the LNU Complex, fire officials said. They were working to marshal additional bulldozers, planes and other resources to assist in that effort.

8:25 a.m. Historic one-room school house destroyed by Walbridge Fire in Sonoma County: The loss of the Daniels Schoolhouse in Venado, which dates back to 1883, comes months after a renovation was completed at the school, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported. Venado has seen both extremes of the climate spectrum in recent years; it was hit with 20 inches of rain in less than 48 hours during a February 2019 storm.

8:08 a.m. Marin Farmer: image of ‘resilient farmer’ conflates sacrifice with success: Images of masked farmworkers harvesting berries in smoky fields and brave farmers discing firebreaks emerge again on social media, with the hashtags #countystrong and #farmersareresilient. But one Marin County farmer, who had to evacuate his farm due to wildfire, says we need to reevaluate what it means to be “resilient.” “A food system that falls apart without people breathing smoke to get strawberries on the table is not resilient,” he writes.

7:41 a.m. Containment grows for SCU Complex: Firefighters increased their containment of the SCU Lighting Complex fire overnight by 5%. The blaze is now 25% contained, according to Cal Fire, and did not apparently grow at all overnight. Three first responders and two civilians have been injured, while 37 structures have been destroyed.

7:35 a.m. Woman found dead in Felton home: An official with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office said investigators were looking into the death of 63-year-old woman who died in her Felton home on Tuesday. She was found after authorities were called to perform a welfare check. It’s not yet clear whether the woman’s death is directly related to the fires, but it is not being considered suspicious.

7:26 a.m. Bay Area farms scrambling to save summer harvest: Small farms on the San Mateo County coast have narrowly escaped destruction from the CZU Lightning Complex fires. But with roads still closed off, those farmers now face a different challenge: figuring out how to harvest what’s still growing abundantly in their fields — and transport it out of fire evacuation zones to farmers markets and donation sites.

6:14 a.m. Firefighters save ancient redwood at Armstrong park: Firefighters and state natural resources crews on Tuesday guided the Walbridge fire that has been blazing through wooded hillsides in Sonoma County largely around the towering redwoods in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Some trees sustained damage in their cavities, but the Colonel Armstrong tree — the oldest tree in the grove estimated to be 1,400 years old — was not damaged by the blaze. The historic Colonel Armstrong tree was “happy” on Tuesday, said Brendan O’Neil, a natural resources manager for California State Parks Sonoma-Mendocino Coast District who oversees the reserve.

6:04 a.m. CZU Complex fire grows only slightly: The CZU complex fire burning in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties grew by less than 500 acres overnight, standing at just over 80,000 acres as of Wednesday morning, Cal Fire officials said. The fire is still 19% contained, but cooler weather conditions are making firefighters optimistic they can continue to make progress against the blaze. Some 538 structures have been destroyed by the CZU Complex, all but 11 of which are in Santa Cruz County.

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