As thunder crackles anew, we mark the second anniversary of the CZU fires

Cal Fire firefighters during the 2020 CZU Complex fire.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The fires destroyed more than 900 homes and changed many lives around Santa Cruz County. And the rebuilding efforts have been halting and tough. We look back and the people and issues we’ve covered, even as we look ahead.

Have something to say? Lookout welcomes letters to the editor, within our policies, from readers. Guidelines here.

Cracks of thunder, odd rainfall, and the scent in the air made some of us wonder this week, and remember. It’s been two years since the catastrophic CZU fires of August 2020. Could it be happening again?

Then, red, orange and black skies hovered above, portending the fires that would consume more than 900 homes and upend so many lives, while pre-vaccine COVID terrors afflicted us on the ground. It was an odd, surreal time for all of us, and for many life-changing.

While Lookout launched three months after those fires, we’ve covered their aftermath in great, and personal, detail. We continue to build on that coverage, as the rebuilding of homes, and lives, is still, at best, midstream.

Here, we’ve collected some of that coverage that endures. We focus on personal stories coming out of the nightmare, the rebuilding effort and our series on where we were at one year ago. We also include our three-part Wildfire Resource Center, still handy as we approach the late summer/early fall fire season.

On Sunday, Wallace Baine, having endured his own recent fire scare, puts our collective experience into perspective.


Personal stories

Gina Lund, like so many others around Santa Cruz County, saw her life and community changed by the 2020 fires. She has...


The first anniversary

Lookout checks in on how the recovery effort is going in Santa Cruz County: In a multi-part series, we talk to the folks...

Big Basin

The beloved state park in the Santa Cruz Mountains was radically reshaped by the 2020 CZU Complex fire, beginning its...

The stark, straightforward “Big Basin Will Never Be The Same” uses side-by-side film of Eric Parson’s favorite trail run...

Unsung heroes

No one could prepare volunteer fire captain Renee Fenker for what it would be like defending the San Lorenzo Valley area...

Be prepared

Lookout Santa Cruz’s Wildfire Resource Center is a one-stop guide to everything you need to keep your family and...

Latest Stories


Be the first to know all the big, breaking news in Santa Cruz. Sign up to get Lookout alerts sent straight to your phone here or below.