The CZU Lightning Complex fires were wildfires that burned in Northern California starting at 6:41am on August 16th 2020, consisting of fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties and destroying buildings in the communities of Boulder Creek, Bonny Soon, Swanton and along Empire Grade Road. I checked in on my kin in the area frequently during their terrifying evacuation.
Each diptych comprises archival imagery of area fires and photographs I shot in the charred—and regrowing— landscape in March of 2021.
Climate change is a major factor in the growing impact of lightning strikes and subsequent wildfires. As weather becomes unusually hot, it has a profound affect on drying vegetation and creating landscapes where fire can spread and leap. Wildfires in the West caused by lightning have been growing bigger and occurring more frequently. The CZU fires were not an anomaly, research shows lightning is an increasing cause of large blazes and climate change is increasing lightning strikes throughout the U.S.
Track real time California wildfires here.