A home burns near Santa Cruz
A home burns near Santa Cruz. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Five Los Angeles County fire engine strike teams — and 101 firefighters — are headed to the Santa Cruz area Saturday to help battle a blaze that has already devoured 67,000 acres.

About 77,000 people have been evacuated due to the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire, which was just 5% contained as of 7 p.m. Saturday. A recent lighting storm was responsible for its ignition, authorities said.

County crews flanked by 23 engines have been assigned to fight flames in the Scotts Valley area.

“The fires continue to actively burn above the marine layer in the heavy timber and thick undergrowth,” a Cal Fire spokesperson said, adding additional road closures and evacuations could be in the cards in the days to come. “Continued hot and dry weather is forecasted for the remainder of the weekend and into next week.”

The situation is so bad that Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency.

President Donald Trump issued a Major Disaster Declaration Saturday evening in response to the California fires.

Five people have died in Northern California so far, according to reports.

“This week, Northern and Central California experienced unusual weather, including lightning strikes, that have sparked hundreds of deadly and destructive wildfires,” Cpt. Ron Haralson of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said, in announcing the mutual aid. “Please be assured this deployment to assist with the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire will not impact the delivery of emergency services to our Los Angeles County residents and communities.”

Cal Fire projected the possibility of dry lightning and dangerous wind conditions through Tuesday, which could make the L.A.-area fire teams’ contributions crucial.

Damage Inspection Teams have already begun to comb through areas where fire activity has died down.

Cal Fire says their ability to battle fires in the Santa Cruz area remains limited, not only due to strained resources, but also because smoke has created visibility problems for pilots.

The L.A. County assistance was facilitated by the California Fire Assistance Agreement.

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