Conflagration Images from Bonny Doon

ABOVE | Fire line as seen from above Swanton Road

Photographs by David Royal

WARNING: Images may be distressing, especially for local residents.

EDITOR’S NOTE: By the morning of August 22, the CZU Lightning Complex Fire had devoured about 63,000 acres in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. It has forced about 20 percent of Santa Cruz County’s population to evacuate and has destroyed at least 97 structures. Many of those lost buildings are in Bonny Doon, a small forested community northwest of Santa Cruz. Photojournalist David Royal visited the village Friday evening. 

Unfortunately, with so many other lightning-strike fires still blazing throughout California, only about 1,100 firefighters from 20 crews are battling the CZU August Complex Fire, and the fire is only about 5 percent contained, according to Cal Fire officials. “The resources are stretched so thin,” reports Royal, after returning from the front lines. “The one quote I heard a lot was ‘we’re fighting this on our own.’”

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David Royal

About David Royal

David Royal is a native of Santa Cruz and a lifelong resident of the Monterey Bay Area. A former staff photographer with the Monterey County Herald, David has over 20 years of experience shooting as a newspaper photojournalist. He has also worked for major news outlets such as the Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. He loves using his camera as a tool to meet people and discover new worlds around him.