California wildfires some of largest in state history, thousands flee

According to experts, California is about 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer now than it would have been without climate change. Photo: Shutterstock

Lightning-sparked wildfires in Northern California exploded in size Friday to become some of the largest in state history, forcing thousands to flee and destroying hundreds of homes and other structures as reinforcements began arriving to help weary firefighters.

More than 12,000 firefighters aided by helicopters and air tankers are battling wildfires throughout California. Three groups of fires, called complexes, burning north, east and south of San Francisco have together scorched 780 square miles (2,020 square kilometers), destroyed more than 500 structures and killed five people.

More than 140,000 people are under evacuation orders.

The blazes, coming during a heat wave that has seen temperatures top 100 degrees, are taxing the state's firefighting capacity but assistance from throughout the country was beginning to arrive, with 10 states sending fire crews, engines and aircraft to help, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

The number of personnel assigned to the sprawling LNU Complex a cluster of blazes burning in the heart of wine country north of San Francisco doubled to more than 1,000 firefighters Friday, he said.

We have more people but it's not enough. We have more air support but it's still not enough and that's why we need support from our federal partners, Newsom said.

Newsom thanked President Donald Trump's administration for its help a day after pushing back on Trump's criticism of the state's wildfire prevention work, saying that he has a "strong personal relationship with the president. While he may make statements publicly, the working relationship privately has been a very effective one, Newsom said.

There are 560 fires burning in the state, many small and remote but there are about two dozen major fires, mainly in Northern California. Many blazes were sparked by thousands of lightning strikes earlier in the week.

Tens of thousands of homes were threatened by flames that drove through dense and bone-dry trees and brush. Some fires doubled in size within 24 hours, fire officials said.

With firefighting resources tight, homes in remote, hard-to-get-to places burned unattended. CalFire Chief Mark Brunton pleaded with residents to quit battling fires on their own, saying that just causes more problems for the professionals.

We had last night three separate rescues that pulled our vital, very few resources away, he said.

An anxious Rachel Stratman, 35, and her husband, Quentin Lareau, 40, waited for word Friday about their home in the Forest Springs community of Boulder Creek, in Santa Cruz County, after evacuating earlier this week. She knew one house burned but received conflicting information about the rest of the neighborhood.

It's so hard to wait and not know," she said. I'm still torn if I want people to be going back to the area and videotaping. I know they cause the firefighters distraction, but that's the only way we know. The couple were in a San Jose hotel with medication she needs after undergoing a transplant surgery last month. She collected her mother's ashes and some clothes while her husband closed windows and readied the home before they evacuated Tuesday.


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel