Three massive wildfires as raging in Northern California after they were ignited by more than 13,000 lightning strikes since mid-August, scorching through 1,875 square miles of land and killing seven people.
On Monday firefighters had a brief respite from the flames as humidity rose, but the state is still reeling from dozens of blazes including two of record-breaking size.
More than 600 wildfires have sparked statewide and burned through more than 1.2milllion acres since mid-August, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
More than 1,200 buildings have been destroyed and 14,000 firefighters have been deployed, including some on 24-hour shifts.
Now firefighters are facing off with three large fire complexes surrounding the Bay Area, all sparked by lightning: the LNU Lightning Complex, the SCU Lightning Complex, and the Santa Cruz Fire also known as the CZU Lightning Fire.
Three massive wildfires are raging in Northern California as 250,000 people are under evacuation orders and seven have been killed. Firefighters respond to a structure fire in part of the CZU Lightning complex in Boulder Creek, California on Sunday
The blazes have burned through more than 1.2million acres or 1,875 square miles since mid-August. Firefighters from Barstow put out hotspots along Highway 9 during the CZU Lightning complex fire on Sunday
More than 1,200 buildings have been destroyed and 14,000 firefighters have been deployed in the fires.
Multiple firefighters work together to tackle the flames from the CZU Lightning complex blaze on Sunday in Boulder Creek
Now firefighters are facing off with three large fire complexes surrounding the Bay Area, all sparked by lightning: the LNU Lightning Complex, the SCU Lightning Complex, and the Santa Cruz Fire also known as the CZU Lightning Fire (above)
CalFire released this map showing the location of active fires raging across the state
The fires are so powerful smoke is visible from outerspace stretching hundreds of miles over the Pacific Ocean.
However, things are looking up. A warning about dry lightning and gusty winds that could trigger more fires was lifted for the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday.
‘Mother Nature’s helped us quite a bit,’ Billy See, the Cal Fire incident commander for a complex of fires burning south of San Francisco, said.
Yet, a quarter of a million of people are still under evacuation orders and warnings.
Officials are warning people to not return to their homes amid the blazes. Six people who returned to a restricted area south of San Francisco to check on their properties were surprised by fire and had to be rescued, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said.
The fires have claimed seven lives so far.
Firefighters battling a fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco discovered the body of a 70-year-old man in a remote area called Last Chance over the weekend.
He had been reported missing and police had to use a helicopter to reach him in an area of about 40 off-the-grid homes that had been under an evacuation order.
Resident Austin Giannuzzi cries while embracing family members at the burned remains of their home during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Vacaville, California on Saturday
Resident Alyssa Medina reacts after finding an intact cup amidst the burned remains of her home during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Vacaville on Saturday that was decimated in the LNU Lightning Complex Fire
‘Vaca Strong’ can be seen through heavily smoke filled air on a blacken hillside, after flames from the LNU Lightning Complex Fire burned through a rural area of Vacaville
Utility workers make repairs to lines that were destroyed by the LNU Lightning Complex fire on Monday
Fire burns in the hollow of an old-growth redwood tree after the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire passed through Monday in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California
A fallen redwood tree in the historic, protected state park pictured above after the CZU blaze passed through
Ben Lomond firefighters work on a blaze at The Sequoia Retreat Center during the CZU August Lightning Complex Fires on Friday in Ben Lomond
Following the LNU Lightning Complex fires, a scorched VW Microbus rests in a driveway of the Spanish Flat community in Napa County, California on Monday
Utility workers survey the damage a mobile home park that was destroyed by the LNU Lightning Complex fire on Monday
‘This is one of the darkest periods we’ve been in with this fire,’ Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Chris Clark said on the discovery of the man’s body.
The LNU Fire and SCU fires have both burned more than 500 square miles. The LNU blaze in wine country has been the most deadly and destructive blaze of them all – leaving five dead and 845 homes destroyed in its wake. Three of those victims were in a home that was under an evacuation order when they died.
As of Monday afternoon the LNU fire, located in the northern Bay Area and Central Valley, is the second largest in the state’s recorded history. It spans 350,030 acres and is just 22 percent contained.
The SCU Lightning Complex stretched 349,196 acres and was 10 percent contained as of Monday morning. The SCU Lightning Complex fire, located east of San Jose, is the third-largest fire in the state’s recorded history.
‘The size and complexity of this fire is not one we’ve seen in times past,’ Cal Fire Chief Shana Jones said.
Flames from the LNU Lightning Complex fires leap above Butts Canyon Road on Sunday. The LNU blaze in wine country has been the most deadly and destructive blaze of them all – leaving five dead and 845 homes destroyed in its wake
A firefighter keeps watch as crews light backfires to contain the Moc Fire, burning between Hwys 49 and 120 adjacent to the Priest Coulterville Road near Groveland, California on Sunday
A stove sits on its side at a mobile home park that was destroyed by the LNU Lightning Complex fire on Monday in Napa, California
Cal Fire spokesman Steve Kaufmann said lightning was responsible for about 585 fires in the past week and that more than 1.1million acres have been scorched since August 15 – more than five times the size of New York City of the entire state of Rhode Island set on fire.
As of Monday more than 10million people in the West were under red-flag warnings, which means warm temperatures, low humidity and strong winds provide for an increased risk of fire danger, according to the National Weather Serivice.
The fires have been further complicated by evacuations amid the coronavirus pandemic and looting in some areas.
‘What we’re hearing from the community is that there’s a lot of looting going on,’ Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said, adding that 100 officers were patrolling areas and anyone not authorized to be in evacuation zones would be arrested.
A view of a home that was destroyed by the LNU Lightning Complex fire on Monday in Napa, California. This blaze has spread over five counties and destroyed over 870 structures and is just 22 percent contained
The downtown Sacramento skyline is covered with smoke and the air quality is very poor due to fires raging through Northern California
Firefighters from Barstow put down hotspots along Highway 9 during the CZU Lightning complex fire on Sunday
Firefighters respond to a structure fire along Riverdale boulevard as the fire line creeps up on Highway 9 during the CZU Lightning complex fire on Sunday in Boulder Creek, California
Fire commander Chief Mark Brunton with Cal Fire was one of the victims robbed while trying to face the fires.
He said after he left his fire vehicle to help direct operations someone entered it, stole personal items including a wallet and ‘drained his bank account.’
Gov. Newsom has issued a checklist for residents to take face masks, sanitation supplies, important documents, medication and three days’ worth of food and water.
Over the weekend Newsom said the state received a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration due to the fires meaning President Trump released federal aid to supplement recovery efforts in Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties.
This year there’s been a spike in wildfires. So far in 2020 there’s been 7,014 fires compared to 4,292 at this time in California last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
Last year, wildfires charred a total of 260,000 acres and killed three people, according to Cal Fire.