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October 19, 2021

Cool weather helps firefighters notch ‘best day yet’

SCOTTS VALLEY—Cool, moist weather throughout the day continued to help firefighters battle the CZU August Lightning Complex fires, which have now scorched 78,684 acres, and as of Monday night was 13% contained, firefighters told reporters during a press conference.

During the conference, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Chris Clark identified the man found dead Monday on Last Chance Road as 73-year-old Tad Jones.

Jones had been reported missing earlier.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in identifying this man who is believed to have stolen a firefighter’s wallet in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The Sheriff’s Office also released photos of a man suspected of breaking into a Cal Fire truck, stealing a wallet and using the victim’s cards to make purchases.

Clark said the suspect made purchases at the Safeway on 41st Avenue in Capitola and at the Shell gas station in Santa Cruz. He also bought Bitcoin, causing a “few thousand dollar loss.”

The suspect is described as a male with light-colored, shoulder-length hair. He was wearing a green San Francisco Giants hat, a white/black checkered face mask, a black T-shirt, light blue jeans and black vans style shoes. Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Nathan Kenville at 831-359-8813.

Firefighting efforts Monday included six helicopters, which dropped 200,000 gallons of water, Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said.

“Today was the best day yet,” he said. “A great day and a lot of great work out there.”

A total of 276 structures have been destroyed in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties, and 25,000 are threatened by the flames.

Cal Fire Unit Chief Ian Larkin said that the county is in for the “long haul,” and predicted that it would be dealing with the fire and its aftereffects for at least a year.

Law enforcement officials—a total of 79—continued to patrol the San Lorenzo Valley, contacting 17 suspicious people in the evacuated zones. A 51-year-old woman was arrested in Bonny Doon for being in a restricted zone, and a 49-year-old Santa Cruz man was arrested after a brief chase. Police found the man in possession of $5,000 in cash, a pair of binoculars and a video camera, none of which belonged to him.

“I want to assure the folks in the San Lorenzo Valley that we’re committed to providing a police presence and looking for people who are potentially looking to prey on you and your neighbors,” said Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Chris Clark.

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