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Redwood Glen

CZU August Complex Fire

CZU August Complex Fire

August 31, 2020 news

September 4 update: Many of you in the Redwood Glen community have become aware of an evacuation order in our area related to the August Complex Fire and have been asking for updates.  We thank you all for the outpouring of prayers and concern for the camp.  We will attempt […]

September 4 update:

Many of you in the Redwood Glen community have become aware of an evacuation order in our area related to the August Complex Fire and have been asking for updates.  We thank you all for the outpouring of prayers and concern for the camp.  We will attempt to update you, the Redwood Glen extended family, as frequently as possible, but the situation is fast-moving and we are still setting up our mobile workspace, so we do ask for your patience in the next day or two as we transition.  Below is a list of frequently asked questions:

What's the current status?

All staff were evacuated on Tuesday at 4:20PM. We issued this directive proactively in the interest of the safety of our staff and their families; with Calfire issuing an evacuation order 20 minutes later for the entire community of Loma Mar. All staff have gone to or with families and friends to wait out the evacuation. As of 6:20PM last night (August 18), the fire had still not entered the property yet. We are still awaiting updates from this morning, but at this juncture we expect the fire to still be over half a mile away from structures.

(update): As of mid-day today (August 19) it appears the fire has now entered the topmost corners of the camp’s property.  A crew arrived today to begin clearing additional brush around buildings to prepare for defending them.  Through Church Mutual, our property insurers, a crew is expected to arrive early tomorrow morning to spray a retardant over all the buildings.  From there, it becomes a waiting game.  Calfire anticipates the fire to reach our buildings late tomorrow or early Friday morning, where they will attempt to defend them.  Please be in prayer for the camp, but also for all the residents of Loma Mar as they are all going through the same thing.

(8/20 2:00PM udpdate): So far today there is not much change; we’re still just waiting.  You may have seen the official fire maps that are publicly available showed as of early this morning that the fire had progressed down nearly to our buildings, but a text out from one of our staff volunteer firefighters who was there this morning indicates the maps overrepresent how far the fire traveled overnight and was (as of that time) still not to the buildings.   We continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support you have shown us during this time.  God is faithful!

(8/20 8:00PM update):  We still wait.  Fire maps of the perimeter are unchanged from this morning.  One bright spot:  photos of the fire above the camp seem to imply the fire is not very intense there, which, if it holds, will aid the firefighters in their defense of the camp.  At the same time, the evacuation orders have grown to cover a larger area.  Please be in prayer overnight for all the lives being impacted by this fire.  That’s a big prayer, but our God is bigger.

(8/21 9:30AM update):  If you are watching fire maps like we are, please realize that there continues to be some discrepancies between the maps and the actual fire location.  We have received word that the fire in a location near the camp descended as far down as Old Haul Road overnight; however, this is not reflected on the fire maps which show the fire still located much higher up.  The granularity of the maps only allow them to locate hotspots within about a 0.25 mile radius, which is not fine-grained enough to indicate what portion of the camp’s property the fire is located on.  The maps do show that the fire activity in our area continued to remain relatively low in intensity.  We were also informed that yesterday an air drop occurred over the camp spreading fire retardant over all our buildings. So, what we know at this juncture is that the fire at some point yesterday descended low enough to have reached our buildings; but were or are in a relatively good position to be defended.  So we remain hopeful and continue to wait upon the Lord.

(8/21 9:00PM update):  Buildings still there!  As of late this afternoon, the fire still hadn’t reached them yet.  Despite the fire reaching Old Haul Road in another area (like noted in the previous update), it still hasn’t reached the camps’s buildings yet.  Church Mutual informed us their crew arrived this afternoon and were setting up to add additional retardant, so the camp remains in good standing at this juncture.  Forecasts for late weekend and early next week in the bay area predict dry weather and possible thunderstorms and increased winds, prompting a Fire Weather Watch.  Please pray for weather the defies the forecast and for all the communities being affected by the current fires.

(8/22 7:30AM update): The news from overnight continues to be positive for Redwood Glen. Word from inside indicates that there is a crew on grounds waiting for the arrival of the fire to our buildings; however, their assessment is that it is losing steam and may not even make it.  The fire is losing intensity and slowing down as it approaches.  Thank you for all your prayers and support.

(8/22 9:30PM update): For those in the Redwood Glen community still checking for a status update tonight, we would appreciate your prayers this evening.  Our buildings are still relatively well positioned to be defended, but overnight tonight will probably be a critical moment, as the fire has finally arrived.  It continues to be a slow brush fire, but it is approaching from a few angles at the same time which will tax the small crew stationed at the camp (provided by Church Mutual).  It has already been rebuffed twice up at our tanks, and appears to be done there, but there will be more areas to defend overnight.  We have a good fire break around the highest buildings, so we remain cautiously optimistic and continue to wait upon the Lord.

(8/23 9:30AM update):  All is well!  This does not mean the camp is entirely safe yet, but overnight went well.  There are a couple lines that are burning on either side of the camp, but should be fine as long as winds don’t turn.  There are a couple spots still burning near buildings this morning, and may get quite close, but will likely burn out at the fire breaks ready for them.  We did likely lose a significant portion of our source water transmission lines – we’ve lost water to the water treatment plant, so there may be another pipe-pulling party in the near future.  There will still be several days at least where Redwood Glen is still at risk, but the camp remains setup relatively well to be defended.  A quick thank you to some locals in Loma Mar and La Honda that came over last night to help us cut come additional fire breaks – their work was tremendous.  Exodus 14:14 – “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

(8/23 6:30PM update): Overall, today continued to go well for the camp.  We did, unfortunately lose a portion of Chapel in the Woods to the fire, and our irrigation tank; but that was not totally unexpected since both were too distant to build a fire line around.  Chapel in the Woods is a spot that holds a special place in many of our hearts, both staff and the greater Redwood Glen community, so we are all saddened by this news.  Indeed, for many of us it is sacred ground.  Yet God is still sovereign and good!  Much like the woods around the camp it will be restored, and much like the woods around the camp, we anticipate it to be relatively quick – most of the trees have survived, its just the underbrush that has been cleared.  Even now as we write, it has started to rain at the camp – another sign of God’s providence.  Please continue to pray for the camp – fires do continue to burn on the property.  However, know with us that God is in control.

(8/24 10:30AM update):  At this juncture, there is not much to report from overnight.  Fire did approach near two of our cabins last night, but the crew there is monitoring it and prepared to defend them today if need be.  We are so thankful for the Redwood Glen community, and all of the support and prayers we are receiving from all of you.

(8/24 7:30PM update):  We are still in a holding pattern.  Not much news from today so far.  Please remember in your prayers for us that there are several houses in the Loma Mar community that were still under threat today too, so be intentional to include them and the many others in your prayers as well.  We were able to get a few pictures taken by our staff uploaded today (included below).  Please note, the picture of Chapel in the Woods was from Saturday just after the fire had run past it.  Unfortunately, on Sunday it circled back around and came back up the hill and consumed the stage.  We will update this photo when we can.  Thank you all so very much.

(8/25 11:30AM update):  There is still active fire on the camp property, but risk is diminishing.  There is still fire close to a couple cabins and part of our water treatment facilities, but the risk has been assessed low enough that the crew from Capstone Fire Management that Church Mutual provided may get reassigned to another camp/facility later today.  No additional facilities have received fire damage other than a small corner of one of the Pioneer Village platforms.  A huge thank you to Church Mutual and Capstone, the Loma Mar Volunteer Fire Department, all of you praying for the camp, and many, many others.  Praise be to God!  We continue to pray and hope that the fire has stopped its march here, and for our sister camps here in the Santa Cruz Mountains that have not fared as well.

(8/26 update): Over the last 24 hours things continue to slow and stabilize.  There are only a couple spots where the fire is not extinguished.  Yesterday a small spot in Pioneer Village reignited and consumed more of one of the platforms – a reminder that we need to remain vigilant over the next few days; however, we are arriving at a place where we can begin start making preparations for allowing staff to return to their homes when evacuation orders are rescinded (probably still over a week away).  Continue to be in prayer for the staff who were displaced by the fire and are anxious to return and begin cleanup.  We added a few more photos below that are more current of the damage.

(8/27 update): Today continued yesterday’s trend, and we are beginning to move into a new phase.  There is still risk of fire:  there continue to be small flare-ups near Pioneer Village and MacArthur Cabin, but so far, nothing of serious consequence; but as we begin to move into assessment and recovery, the greater risk in the coming days and even months will be falling trees that were compromised by the fire.  For a period of time, we may need to close off certain sections of our property for the safety of staff and guests (once we can reopen and host guests again).  Evacuation orders were lifted today for a number of the surrounding communities, but continues to remain in effect for Loma Mar.  While there is still some danger, we are thankful to be in a place to begin thinking about recovery.  Please pray with us for those whose recovery will be so much more difficult than ours.

(8/29 update): This weekend we are making preparations for repairs to our waters system’s source transmission lines which could take up to 2 weeks to complete.  Please be in prayer for the staff during this time.  We anticipate that the evacuation orders for Loma Mar will be rescinded soon, but returning on grounds to live is not a viable option for the staff without access to water.  The additional wait will be trying on our staff as they live in hotels or friend’s and family’s spare rooms.  In case you missed it, we sent out a newsletter yesterday.  If you have not signed up to receive our newsletters, we encourage you to do so here, as this will become the official channel for updates as we move into recovery.  We pray for a time soon when we get to share with all of you these hallowed grounds.

(9/1 update): This weekend officially kicked off our recovery process, even as the forest still smolders around the camp even today.  The evacuation orders as of yet have not been rescinded, but supplies for rerunning our raw water transmission lines are already on their way.  For those waiting for an invitation to a pipe-pulling party, we would love to schedule one, but without clarity on when the evacuations orders will be cleared it is hard to plan at this stage.  One still may be in our near future, so watch your inbox for a newsletter invitation, but we will need to begin the long pull even without the party so we can get our staff back on grounds and in their  homes as quickly as possible.  Do watch your inbox, as there will likely be plenty of other opportunities this fall to assist in the cleanup.  Thank you to all of you who have offered to help!

(9/4 update):  Added a few more images below.  Yesterday afternoon the evacuation orders were lifted (hooray!) and a portion of the staff were allowed to return to their homes: you can read today’s newsletter for details.  With the lifting of the evacuation orders, we will move to our newsletter as the official platform for continuing to update the Redwood Glen community about the recovery process.  If you have not signed up to receive our newsletters, we encourage you to do so here.  Continue to contact us through our normal channels (see below), but please know that there will be a couple week period of slower than usual responses as we move back into our offices and return staff to their homes.  As we close up this post, a couple statistics:

  • 4 total structures burned:  Chapel in the Woods; 1 Pioneer Village platform; our irrigation tank; and approximately 1 mile of our raw water transmission lines.
  • Closest building to the fire:  MacArthur – the fire came within 15 feet of our highest cabin.
  • Closest staff residence:  Hodge House – approximately 100 feet away.
  • The understory of 128 acres of our 165 (78%) were consumed
  • The number of people praying for the camp:  Thousands! – thank you for all your support.

What happened?

In the early morning hours of Sunday, there was a series of electrical storms in the coastal mountain range (Santa Cruz Mountains) that triggered several fires, the closest of which began on the other side of a ridge behind the camp property. The fire has been slow moving, but steadily approaching us and the community of Loma Mar. Calfire has been stretched thin with all the fire activity from the storms and have been forced to prioritize their resources across multiple fires. As a result, they have slowed the fire’s progress, but have been unable to contain it.

What's next?

We are setting up a mobile office station to begin working remotely and from multiple locations. It is anticipated to be temporary (hopefully just a few days) but we remain ready to adjust whichever direction God takes us. Once the evacuation order is lifted, we will assess any damage (if any) and move forward from there. (update): With the news today that Calfire will wait for the fire to come to the buildings to fight it there, we project our mobile office timeframe to be a minimum of a few weeks now.

How do I get a hold of the camp?

Currently phones are not being monitored. If the evacuation appears to be prolonged, we will forward these numbers to a new location where we can monitor them. Currently, the best way to get a hold of us is by email. info@redwoodglen.com will be the best way to get a hold of us. As we move into our mobile workspace, we will begin monitoring and responding to emails starting this afternoon, but please be patient with us – it may take an extra day or two for us to respond.  (update): we are working on redirecting our phone lines and hope to be back to monitoring them Thursday or Friday this week, but for now, the primary mode of contact remains our main email address above. (8/24 update): We have run into a technical issue with AT&T in forwarding our lines and continue to work on it.  We anticipate having this corrected Tuesday or Wednesday to be able to take your phone calls again. (8/27 update): Phones are forwarding as they should be now, thank you for your patience.  If you dial our mainline, (650) 879-0320, you will not get to our mobile virtual office.

I was scheduled for the Retreat to the Redwoods weekend later this month, will that still be available?

At this juncture, no decisions have been made about upcoming Retreat to the Redwoods offerings. Anyone that was scheduled for this coming weekend has been contacted directly about their retreat, but we remain on standby for anything scheduled after that as we assess the situation over the coming few days.

How can I help?

As always, your prayers are of the most significant value. We rely on the God who gives for all provisions.  If that is you and you are able to donate, you can continue to give through our donation page. Once the evacuation orders are lifted, we will assess any damage (if any) and determine what work needs to be done. There will most likely be volunteer opportunities in the future to get the camp ready again, but we will need to assess how to provide for those opportunities while still in the midst of a pandemic, so be on the lookout for future opportunities.
Written by chad
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