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Cal Fire CZU: Embers from CZU Lightning Complex may have contributed to January fires

CZU Lightning Complex update (Spanish) Aug 25.00_01_02_10.Still001
A photo from the CZU Lightning Complex Fires in August 2020

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) Cal Fire CZU and assisting agencies fought a series of fires over the course of a few days in January, and the fire agency has addressed how the fires may have started.

In mid-January, Santa Cruz County experienced wind that was up to 50 to 60 miles per hour, and Deputy Chief Nate Armstrong said in a video released by Cal fire that the wind stirred up embers in ground fuel, but there was also dead fuel from trees.

The wind started on Jan. 18, and by the following day, crews were responding to reports of 20 vegetation fires, several of them in the CZU Lightning Complex burn scar.

Armstrong said that even though the area had rain recently, there were still embers within some of the ground fuels from the CZU Lightning Complex Fires.

Armstrong said the fires were not normal for January in Santa Cruz County. Through most of the year, he said they usually see fires that are about a quarter acre in size, and at the height of fire season, they might see fires up to 10 to 15 acres in size.

He expects that due to a long-term drought and other factors, the January fires and the CZU Lightning Complex could be an indicator of what to expect in the future.

"It's pretty evident that California is in a year-round fire season at this point," Armstrong said in the video.

Watch the full video released by Cal Fire CZU below.

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Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.


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