Thursday night was the first night home in a week for many residents who were evacuated due to the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.
Some residents were greeted with cheers when they drove back into town, and one household came back with a new member of the family – a baby boy, born on the first night of evacuations.
Last Thursday night, Aug. 20, the town of Pescadero nearly emptied out under the mandatory evacuation orders. That was the night that Lauren Tippets went into labor with her son Jonathan.
“Thursday night when we got our evacuation I went into labor and I had him,” she said.
She and her husband spent a few days leading up to the evacuation spraying down their property.
It survived unscathed.
“We were at the hospital for a few nights and then stayed with my in-laws over the hill,” she said.
There are homes that did not survive the fire, but they’re further into the canyon. The flames didn’t reach Pescadero.
When another resident, Bridget Van Dronigan, returned home Thursday, it wasn’t just a relief. She said it was a celebration.
“I brought back about eight pizzas for everyone,” she said.
When the evacuation orders were issued last Thursday, she closed up shop at Durates restaurant and left. She’d already survived a fire years ago and didn’t want to go through a second.
“My house burned down and I was sleeping inside the house,” Van Dronigan said. “So when they told me to leave I was like, ‘I’m not taking any risks,’ I left right away.”
She was able to rent a hotel room in Half Moon Bay for a few nights. Then she got a couple of vouchers from the Red Cross for food and a hotel for the rest of the time she was away.
Residents of Scott's Valley were also cleared to return home Thursday night. Officials are working to see how many other communities may soon be safe enough to return to.