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Stephan Hoffman, 33, tosses sleeping bags into a container for storage at a Santa Cruz County warehouse at the Emeline Avenue complex Saturday. Residents and American Red Cross workers sorted and processed supplies for wildfire victims there this week. (William Duncan — Santa Cruz Local)

SANTA CRUZ >> As areas of Mount Hermon, Zayante, Lompico and eastern Bear Creek Road reopened Friday, Cal Fire and utility representatives said residents should take precautions once they get home to check for damage. 

Cal Fire officials recommended that residents who return to areas in the fire zone should go through a checklist. 

  • Check grounds for hot spots, smoldering stumps, and vegetation.
  • Check the roof and exterior areas for sparks or embers.
  • Check the attic and throughout your house for any hidden burning sparks or embers.
  • Check for fire damage to your home, turn off all appliances and make sure the meter is not damaged before turning on the main circuit breaker.
  • Check the well or pump-house to ensure it is in working order.
  • Contact 911 if any danger is perceived.
  • Consult local experts on the best way to restore and plant your land with fire-safe landscaping.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said residents should check for damage to household electrical wiring. If damage is suspected, authorities said to turn off the power at the main switch and call an electrician. 

PG&E crews are expected to go door to door in customers’ areas to ensure natural gas and electricity work. “If you or someone else shut off the gas during the evacuation, do not turn it back on,” PG&E said in a statement. “Contact PG&E or another qualified professional to perform a safety inspection before the gas service is restored and the gas appliance pilots are re-lit.”

Gas odors in or around homes should be reported to 911 then PG&E at 800-743-5000. More information about returning home after a wildfire is at PGE.com.

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Propane

Most San Lorenzo Valley homes have propane tanks. Mountain Propane Service has about 2,000 customers in Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek, Felton, Bonny Doon and other areas. A representative offered the following tips.:

  • Inspections are recommended for homes or surrounding areas with fire damage.
  • Fire damaged propane tanks generally need to be replaced rather than repaired because of compromises to the metal. An inspection will determine problems.
  • Propane tank replacement can be simple or difficult depending on whether a crane can reach it easily. 
  • Some propane service providers such as Mountain Propane are in evacuated areas and cannot provide service until those areas are opened. 
Reopening timeline
  • Authorities did not give more specifics Friday morning about when areas would reopen. Areas with more damage generally will open later than areas with little damage, said Santa Cruz County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Chris Clark. “I just can’t place specifics,” Clark said Friday morning. “I just don’t want to give people false hope.”
  • Clark said many roads are closed. He advised people who are returning to homes should check road closure advisories. The California Highway Patrol website under “Monterey” drop down menu shows Santa Cruz County roads. 
Authorities reopened areas of Mount Hermon, Lompico, Zayante and Bear Creek Road on Friday. Press image for updated map. (Cal Fire)
Fire, damage updates
  • Friday, the fire was 27% contained at 129 square miles. Helicopter crews dropped about about one quarter of the water that they had in prior days because of weather that included a marine layer.
  • Hotter, drier weather is expected with highs in the 80s and 90s expected through Tuesday. Wind is expected to switch from southerly to northerly on Sunday or Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Southerly wind blew smoke into Half Moon Bay on Friday, authorities said.
  • At least 575 homes have been destroyed, Cal Fire said. There were at least 831 structures destroyed with 820 of them in Santa Cruz County. 
  • “Tedious, time-consuming” road work is being done to clear trees from roads on the North Coast, said Cal Fire Operations Chief Mark Brunton.
  • Cal Fire Incident Commander Billy See said areas near Highway 1 on the North Coast and Highway 236 near Boulder Creek generally have the most road damage. 
Extreme heat from the CZU Lightning Complex Fire melted asphalt on Swanton Road on the North Coast. Hazards keep the area closed Thursday. Cal Fire)
  • North of Ben Lomond and near Brookdale Thursday night firefighters dealt with a 30-acre fire that crossed fire control lines. “There hasn’t been fire history here for such a long time,” Brunton said. That “duff” on the forest floor ignited. Brunton described it as a “minor setback.”
  • National Guard fire crews with basic firefighting training were deployed around the Boulder Creek area Friday. They help free up more advanced fire crews, Brunton said. 
  • At least 125 fire, police and other agencies responded to the fire, according to Cal Fire and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. 
Animal rescues

Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputies and county Animal Services staff went to hundreds of homes Wednesday and Thursday nights to feed and care for animals stranded at homes in evacuated areas. 

“They were mostly feeding cats and dogs, but I was also told they fed, chickens, fish, and a variety of reptile species,” Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty wrote in his newsletter

Resource events

A Recovery Resource Center is expected to start Saturday at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, giving fire victims a one-stop shop for help that ranges from federal benefits registration to grocery money. The event starts Saturday and will be open daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • The event takes place 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at 140 Front St., Santa Cruz
  • Information will include details on rebuilding, debris, utilities, insurance, social services and replacement documents. 
  • Free two-hour parking will be provided. 
  • Information at the in-person event also is online.
  • Santa Cruz Local’s Wildfire Resources page also has information.
Donation update

Santa Cruz County authorities said the following items are in high demand. Items will only be accepted if they are new. Donations can be taken to 1082 Emeline Ave., Santa Cruz or 114 Walker St., Watsonville 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.  

  • Men’s clothing: Pants, t-shirts, shoes, socks, underwear, hoodies, sweatshirts and sweatpants
  • Women’s clothing: Pants, t-shirts, shoes, socks, underwear, hoodies, sweatshirts and sweatpants
  • Bath and hand towels
  • Bed sheets/linens – queen-sized and smaller
  • Sleeping pads
  • Pillow cases
  • Ice chests, coolers
  • Food donations may be brought to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Mutual Aid

The following agencies responded to the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, according to Cal Fire. 

  • Alameda County Sheriff’s Office
  • Albuquerque Area Office – U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • Amador Fire Protection District
  • Anaheim Fire Department
  • Aptos-La Selva Beach Fire Protection District
  • Arcadia Fire Department
  • Atascadero City Fire Department
  • Atascadero State Hospital Fire Department
  • Ben Lomond Fire Protection District
  • Benicia Fire Department
  • Boulder Creek Fire Protection District
  • Brea Fire Department
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
  • California Conservation Corps
  • California Highway Patrol
  • California Office of Emergency Services
  • California State Parks 
  • Campbell Police
  • Camp Roberts Fire Department
  • Capitola Police
  • Central California District – Bureau of Land Management
  • Central County Fire Department
  • Central Fire Protection District of Santa Cruz County
  • Chester Fire Protection District
  • Coastside Fire Protection District
  • Corona Fire Department
  • Culver City Fire Department
  • Downey Fire Department
  • Felton Fire Protection District
  • Five Cities Fire Authority
  • Gilroy Police
  • Hemet Fire Department
  • Kentfield Fire Protection District
  • Kern County Fire Department
  • La Habra Heights Fire Department
  • Lakeside Fire Department
  • Long Beach Fire Department
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Los Altos Police
  • Los Angeles City Fire Department
  • Los Angeles County  Operational Area “C”
  • Los Angeles County Operational Area “E”
  • Los Angeles County Fire Department
  • Marin County Fire Department
  • Marina Department of Public Service
  • Mendocino County Operational Area
  • Mendocino Police
  • Menlo Park Fire Protection District
  • Merced Fire Department
  • Mid-Peninsula Open Space District Fire Department
  • Milpitas Police
  • Minnesota Private
  • Monterey County Operational Area
  • Monterey Park Fire Department
  • Morongo Indian Reservation Fire Department
  • Morro Bay Fire Department
  • Mountain View Fire Department
  • Mountain View Police
  • Mountains Recreation and Conservative Authority
  • National City Fire Department
  • National Weather Service (Hanford)
  • New Jersey Forest Fire Service
  • Newport Beach Fire & Medical Department
  • North Central Fire Department
  • North County Fire Department
  • Oakland Police
  • Orange County Fire Department
  • Orange Cove Fire Department
  • Oxnard Fire Department
  • Paso Robles Fire Department
  • Redwood City Fire Department
  • Riverside County Fire Department
  • Riverside County Operational Area
  • Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department
  • San Bernardino County Operational Area
  • San Bruno Fire Department
  • San Diego County Fire Authority
  • San Gabriel Fire Department
  • San Jose Fire Department
  • San Luis Obispo County Fire Department
  • San Luis Obispo Operational Area
  • San Mateo County Fire
  • San Mateo County Operational Area
  • San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office 
  • San Mateo Fire Department
  • San Miguel Consolidated Fire Department
  • Sanger Fire Department
  • Santa Barbara County Fire Department
  • Santa Clara County Fire Department
  • Santa Clara County Operational Area
  • Santa Clara Fire Department
  • Santa Clara Police
  • Santa Cruz County Fire Department
  • Santa Cruz County Operational Area
  • Santa Cruz Fire Department
  • Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office 
  • Santa Cruz Police
  • Santa Fe Springs Fire Department
  • San Jose Police
  • San Jose State University Police
  • Santa Maria Fire Department
  • Scotts Valley Fire Protection District
  • Scotts Valley Police
  • Shasta County Fire Department
  • Shasta County Operational Area
  • Sierra Madre Fire Department
  • Soboba Volunteer Fire Department
  • Solano County Operational Area
  • South Pasadena Fire Department
  • South San Francisco Fire Department
  • Sunnyvale Police
  • Sutter County Fire Department
  • Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District
  • Tulare County Fire Department
  • Tulare County Operational Area
  • Tule River Indian Agency
  • UC Berkeley Police
  • UC San Diego Police
  • Visalia Fire Department
  • Watsonville Fire Department
  • Watsonville Police
  • Western Region Headquarters – National Weather Service
  • Woodside Fire Protection District
  • Zayante Fire Protection District
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Stephen Baxter is a co-founder and editor of Santa Cruz Local. He covers Santa Cruz County government.