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Wildfire Evacuee Launches Santa Cruz Mountains Strong Fundraiser

NBC Universal, Inc.

Some wildfire evacuees in the Santa Cruz Mountains are starting to go back home while others are learning there’s nothing to go home to. One evacuee decided he could help.

The CZU Complex Fire has destroyed nearly 1,500 homes, businesses and other structures and damaged more than a hundred others. But it also stoked the spirit of community there.

When lighting sparked the fire, Nicky Gaston, his wife and 10-month old son had a half-hour to pack up what they could and get out of the Boulder Creek home they’d just moved into two weeks earlier.

A day later, Gaston went back to try to protect his home and his friend’s.

"It was pretty scary, it was all covered in fire," he said. "I set up a sprinkler, hoping it would help it, and then the next day we found out that his house burned down."

Working from a rented cabin in the Sierra foothills, Gaston is now using his Santa Cruz Mountains Strong illustration to help raise money.

People can buy a poster or T-shirt, with 100% of the proceeds going to help victims of the wildfire through the Santa Cruz County Community Foundation. Other artists are contributing as well.

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