WILDFIRES have been raging across California – burning through 1.1 MILLION acres of land, whilst destroying homes and precious forestry.
Hot weather and dry landscape has made the West Coast state susceptible to them, with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento trying to keep the fires under control.
California fires map
Fires have broken out in several places across California and have prompted Gavin Newsom, the state governor, to declare a state of emergency.
On August 22 President Trump declared the wildfires a major disaster and released federal aid for the state.
Governor Newsom said the aid will help people in counties affected by the fires with crisis counselling, housing and other social services.
Tragically, the pilot of a helicopter fighting the raging fires has lost their life after the aircraft crashed.
Stretched fire services are trying to get a grip of the crisis in several places including at San Mateo, Nevada and Lake Hughes where a fire has now burned through 21,000 acres.
Most worrying for firefighters at the moment is the SCU Lightning Complex fire – made up of fires burning in several Bay Area counties – which has so far consumed 25,000 acres and very little has been contained.
More than a million acres is on fire right now – an area five times the size of New York – and four times the size of all the wildfires that occurred in California in 2019.
Firefighters are having to prioritise which fires to fight, with state resources stretched to a capacity not seen before.
The blaze currently burning in wine country now ranked as the second largest in state history.
At least seven people have died so far in the blaze.
What's happened so far?
- On August 25, at least seven people have died from the blaze which has covered 1.1 million acres of land.
- On August 22 President Donald Trump declared the wildfires a major disaster and released federal aid.
- On August 21 about 100,000 people were under evacuation orders as more than 12,000 firefighters aided by helicopters and air tankers are battling the blazes.
- On August 20 the pilot of a helicopter fighting the raging fires lost their life after the aircraft crashed.
- On August 18, California declared a state of emergency after the extreme temperatures caused more fires to break out, many sparked by lightning strikes. The state also had to deal with mass power outages as residents desperately turned up their air conditions.
- On August 18, several wildfires break out in areas such as Carmel Valley in Monterey County.
- On August 16, Death Valley National Park, California, smashed the record for highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. Death Valley hit an extraordinary 30F (54.4C), beating their own record set in 2013 of 129.2F (54C).
- On August 13, 100 homes had to be evacuated as huge fires broke out at Lake Hughes, just outside of Los Angeles.
- On August 12, a firefighter dies while battling a blaze in Kern County.
- On July 22, a fire in Modoc County begins and burns through a devastating 83,000 acres before it is contained.
- On July 20, a Lassen County blaze begins which goes on to injure two firefighters and takes 18 days to fully contain.
- On May 3, the first major recorded wildfire of the year breaks out in Kings County, tearing through 2060 acres
Have there been evacuations?
Evacuations order were in effect or growing in the Napa county wine country north of San Francisco Bay, near Salinas in Monterey county, around Oroville Dam north of Sacramento and near the Nevada state line north of Lake Tahoe.
Evacuation orders have also been issued in the mountains along the borders of San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties and in parts of Sonoma County.
About 100,000 people are under evacuation orders as more than 12,000 firefighters aided by helicopters and air tankers are battling the blazes.
Three groups of fires, called complexes, burning north, east and south of San Francisco have together scorched 991 square miles, destroyed more than 500 structures and killed six people.
How did the wildfires start?
Wildfires usually start by the heat of the sun causing a small fire to break out in woodlands, which grows as it consumes the flammable material around it.
While that is largely the case here as well, there have been many reports of some of the newest wildfires breaking out because of recent lightning strikes from the tropical storm.
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