CZU Lightning Complex fire: How to give help, how to get help

To: UC Santa Cruz staff, faculty and students

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer

This past week has seen many incredible displays of kindness, perseverance and resilience. We both spent time on campus with our teams as they managed the emergency evacuation. That included a visit to those supporting our students who have been relocated to San Jose State, and greeting campus members who evacuated to the beach-area shelter and to the University Town Center. In the middle of so much uncertainty and loss, it was inspiring to see our community come together to help each other.

The latest report from Cal Fire indicates the CZU Lightning Complex fire has consumed nearly 80,000 acres, destroyed 330 structures, and is now, thanks to the continued hard work of Cal Fire and other mutual-aid agencies, 17 percent contained. The fire has not reached campus — it remains about a mile from our northern boundary — or the city of Santa Cruz, and Cal Fire has created two fire lines to help protect both. This crisis is not yet over, though, and we must continue to be prepared should the situation change.

While we do not yet know the full extent of the fire damage, it is clear that it will be immense and widespread. UC Santa Cruz employs nearly 5,000 people, and some live in or near the impacted areas. We already know of members of our campus community whose homes have been destroyed in the fire. Hundreds of others have been forced to evacuate, and do not yet know when they will be allowed to return.

To make things easier for those impacted by this fire, and for those who want to help them, today we have launched two new web pages that give those details.

Our “How to get help” page is the place to start for any UC Santa Cruz student or employee impacted by the wildfire who needs help. It includes housing options, which is important, as roughly 77,000 people have been evacuated as a result of this fire.

While this tragedy continues to evolve, many people have asked how they can help. We’ve tried to answer that question on the new “How to give help” page. While there has been a massive outpouring of material support — and items still needed are listed on the page — the best way to directly help those impacted by the fire is through a donation to the disaster-relief fund championed by the UC Santa Cruz Foundation and the Alumni Association. There is a link to donate on the “How to give help” page. You can choose whether your donation goes toward students or employees. Already the response has been tremendous, with close to $80,000 raised.

In the meantime, we continue to keep a close eye on the status of the fire, and are regularly updating our fire web page, which includes updates on to the status of campus operations; information about resources; links to external fire information; as well as links to the “How to give help” and “How to get help” pages.

Many have asked when Cal Fire will lift the evacuation order for the campus. We will share that information as soon as we receive it from Cal Fire. We still face air-quality issues and other possible impacts. In response to COVID-19, buildings were being fully ventilated with outdoor air. At this time, we do not know the impact of poor air quality inside our facilities. Also, to reduce fire risk to campus, many utilities and building functions were curtailed for the evacuation. Returning those required functions will take time.

Thank you for your caring and for your commitment to each other. Together we can ensure that those impacted by the fire stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.

Cindy and Lori