Story at a glance
- Wildfires continue to blaze through California, with the Bay Area facing smoke and evacuations.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an order declaring a state of emergency.
The fires have now reportedly grown from Napa to the Santa Cruz Mountains, catalyzed by lightning storms and perpetuated by a lingering heat wave, which has also brought mass blackouts.
Within the past 72 hours, there have been more than 10,800 lightning strikes across the state, igniting about 367 new wildfires. One of the most deadly is the LNU Lightning Complex fire, burning more than 46,000 acres in the Bay Area, according to state data. Zero percent of the fire has been contained.
Officials have now ordered the town of Vacaville, a small city of approximately 100,000 residents in Northern California, situated between San Francisco and Sacramento, at the center of the LNU Lightning Complex. Fifty structures have been destroyed, and another 50 have incurred damage.
“The size and complexity at which these incidents are burning is challenging all aspects of emergency response,” said Jeremy Rahn, the public information officer from Cal Fire working on the CNU Lightning Complex. Rahn added the department has outsourced private firefighters, citing a strain on available state resources.
Other fires are posing threats to the surrounding communities near Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Año Nuevo State Park, Butano State Park and Pescadero Creek Park.
“Last night, we saw a major increase in fire activity throughout both San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, and we saw several of the fires merge together,” California Fire Department Deputy Chief Jonathan Cox said during a news conference on Wednesday.
This comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency due to the nearly 30 fires burning the state. This declaration frees up extra resources for public agencies.
“We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions,” Newsom reportedly said. “California and its federal and local partners are working in lockstep to meet the challenge and remain vigilant in the face of continued dangerous weather conditions.”