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Wildfires prompt evacuations in California's wine country

Wildfires prompt evacuations in California's wine country
© Getty Images

Wildfires have prompted authorities to issue evacuations for thousands of people in central California, including in its wine country, as about 30 fires have spread.

One of the largest is called the LNU Lightning Complex, which has raged across Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties, leading to mandatory evacuations.

The fire complex, composed of at least seven different fires, has overtaken 32,025 acres and has been zero percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, data last updated Tuesday at 10 p.m.

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Cal Fire warned that firefighters are facing “extreme fire behavior with short and long range spotting” which is affecting firefighting. 

The Solano County Office of Emergency Services called on all residents north of Gates Canyon Road to Quail Canyon Road and Pleasants Valley Road to Blue Ridge Road to leave the area due to “immediate threat to life.” The evacuations were issued early Wednesday morning, including parts of Vacaville, a city with 100,000 people.

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Officials also ordered people to evacuate from certain areas of Napa and Sonoma counties and issued evacuation warnings to some residents in Sonoma County to be packed and ready to move.

The spread of the Hennessey Fire, which is included in the LNU Lightning Complex, led to evacuation orders for parts of rural Napa County, according to local Fox affiliate KTVU

As of Tuesday night at least 1,900 structures are threatened, and three have been destroyed in the complex, the Los Angeles Times reported

The LNU Lightning Complex moved about three miles in an hour and a half on Wednesday, leading emergency responders to rush to get people out of the area. The heat index from the fire complex along with other fires in the state were intense enough to be detectable from space, The Washington Post reported.

Many of the California fires started after lightning strikes during a Sunday storm, followed by other fires being sparked by the dry lightning of other storms. 

An evacuation center has been set up in Crosswalk Community Church in Napa, and those taking shelter are required to bring a face covering, follow social distancing rules and practice good hygiene, KTVU reported.

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomOVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds | Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires | Climate change, national security among topics for final Trump-Biden debate Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires Trump administration rejects California request for wildfire disaster assistance MORE (D) declared a statewide emergency order for the fires Tuesday. 

Napa and Sonoma counties have been hit by harsh fires in the past including in 2017 when 22 people were killed and many wineries were destroyed.