Favorable weather, including higher humidity, has helped firefighters battle the SCU Lightning Complex of fires, now the second-largest in state history, Cal Fire officials said Wednesday morning.
The fire started at about 4 a.m. on Aug. 16 and has spread across Alameda, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties in the Bay Area, as well as San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced and San Benito counties. By Wednesday morning, it had burned 365,772 acres and was 25 percent contained. Five people have been injured including three first responders, and 37 structures have been destroyed. More than 20,000 structures are still threatened.
Firefighters don’t have an idea yet when the fire will be contained. Tuesday evening, fire crews were able to able to maintain the existing containment line around the fire, and reinforce and add new lines, fire officials said.
But deep, inaccessible low spots in the terrain containing dense fuels could ignite, posing a threat of more fire activity, said Cal Fire spokesman Mitch Matlow.
Firefighters are planning for at least two controlled burns inside the fire’s area on Wednesday, Matlow said. Both will send plumes of smoke in the air. The controlled burns will increase the distance between the fire’s edge and the control line, making it less likely the fire will spread further.
The SCU Complex started as several fires that merged into one and now consists of three zones, the Deer Zone, Calaveras Zone and Canyon Zone. Crews have contained the Deer Zone, which was in Contra Costa County.