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Regional Interests

Capturing What’s Lost and Found 1 Year After CZU Fires Swept Through Santa Cruz Mountains

Just over a year ago, some 12,000 lightning strikes exploded across Northern California, igniting more than 585 wildfires.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, scattered blazes grew into a massive burning organism – the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire – which eventually scorched some 86,000 acres and destroyed over 900 homes as well as burning through Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California’s first state park. One year later, the fire is still burning deep in some of the roots and stumps of ancient redwoods.

In the aftermath, storytelling duo The Kitchen Sisters turned their microphones on the region, looking for what was lost and what has been found since lightning sparked the fires. This sound collage documentary grew out of a collaboration with the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

People who lost their homes in the blaze were invited to bring in artifacts found in the ashes to be photographed by award winning photographer Shmuel Thaler and interviewed by The Kitchen Sisters about the fire, their homes, the environment, their lives. The photos and stories are part of an exhibit currently on display at the museum.

Copyright 2021 KQED