Big Basin Redwoods State Park
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Months after devastation, CZU Lightning Complex fire finally declared over

Four months after it began, the devastating CZU Lightning Complex fire has been fully controlled and no longer presents any danger of reigniting, Cal Fire announced Monday.

The fire was “contained” on Sept. 22 after killing one person, torching 86,509 acres and destroying 1,490 structures — most of them homes in rural Santa Cruz County. A wildfire is considered contained when it is surrounded on all sides — whether by fire line or another defensible barrier.

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But it isn’t until the fire is controlled — determined not to pose any further threat of jumping out of containment — that the fire is considered over.

Cal Fire CZU Unit Chief Ian Larkin declared the fire controlled Dec. 23, according to the announcement. “We were at a point where we felt comfortable calling it controlled. We had finished most of the fire suppression activities,” Larkin said in a statement.

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The CZU Lightning Complex fire was sparked Aug. 16 in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties by a dry lightning storm that lashed out at California, igniting hundreds of fires across the state. Several swelled to historic sizes.