California fires torch more land than 5 New York Cities. Now bad weather could ignite more blazes

Firefighters working 24-hour shifts will get no reprieve from...

Posted: Aug 24, 2020 10:03 AM
Updated: Aug 24, 2020 3:45 PM

Firefighters working 24-hour shifts will get no reprieve from California's wildfires Monday as dangerous weather conditions could spark new infernos.

Lightning was responsible for about 585 fires in the past week, Cal Fire spokesman Steve Kaufmann said this weekend.

By Monday morning, more than 1.1 million acres had been scorched since August 15. That's more than five times the size of New York City. That's like the entire state of Rhode Island getting set ablaze.

Now, 'thunderstorms that produce very little rain but contain lightning will likely trigger new fires,' CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said Monday.

More than 10 million people in the West are under red-flag warnings Monday -- meaning 'warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger,' the National Weather Service said.

And that's treacherous news for fire crews. More than 14,000 firefighters have been battling the flames, including some on 24-hour shifts. Every resource at the state's disposal is being used, Gov. Gavin newsom said at a press conference.

But there are just too many fires and not enough resources to prevent more homes from being torched, Cal Fire officials have said.

More than 1,200 structures have been destroyed, including at least 871 by the LNU Complex fire. At least four people have been killed.

And without the help of hundreds of inmate firefighters who were released early due to the Covid-19 pandemic, those on the front lines are racing against time and exhaustion to save homes and lives.

2 fires make history as they keep burning

The LNU Lightning Complex Fire, in the northern Bay Area and Central Valley, is the second-largest inferno in the state's recorded history. The SCU Lightning Complex Fire, largely east of San Jose, is now the third-largest fire in the state's history.

By Monday morning, the LNU fire had scorched more than 350,000 acres and was about 22% contained. The SCU fire has burned more than 347,000 acres and was about 10% contained.

'The size and complexity of this fire is not one we've seen in times past,' Cal Fire Chief Shana Jones said.

California wildfires have caused more deaths and destruction so far this year than in all of 2019. Last year, wildfires charred a total of 260,000 acres and killed three people, according to Cal Fire.

There have already been 7,014 fires in 2020, as compared to 4,292 at this time last year, Newsom said.

Evacuating during a pandemic

Tens of thousands of residents have been ordered to evacuate. But unlike previous years, evacuees are also trying to protect themselves from coronavirus.

'It just instills a panic when you get that warning on your phone,' Daniel Deschene, who was told to evacuate because of the SCU Lighting Complex Fire, told CNN affiliate KGO. 'You feel adrenaline rushing. We took personal belongings computers, medicine, clothes and you know anything that we could lose.

Gov. Newsom's office issued a checklist for what to take if residents need to evacuate, including face masks, sanitation supplies, important documents, medication, and three days' worth of food and water.

More than 2,300 people took refuge Sunday night in emergency shelters or even hotels provided by the Red Cross and its partners, the organization said in a release.

Federal disaster declaration issued

Over the weekend, Newsom said the state received a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration due to the fires burning in the northern part of the state. That means President Donald Trump released federal aid to supplement recovery efforts in areas affected by the wildfires.

Those areas include Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties, according to a White House statement.

The disaster declaration came a day after Newsom said that 100% of the state's firefighting resources have been deployed to battle the lightning-sparked blazes. California has requested firefighting support from neighboring states, including Nevada, Texas, and Arizona.

The coming week will be critical in the fight, Newsom said, with weather a top concern, as 'winds can change on a moment's notice.'

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 157079

Reported Deaths: 2296
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah32006550
Washington21377217
Marion18625287
Clackamas13456191
Lane10373131
Jackson8569118
Umatilla770982
Deschutes602765
Yamhill380069
Linn361357
Malheur336358
Polk308845
Klamath281655
Douglas259255
Josephine240056
Benton236618
Jefferson197630
Coos159121
Union130519
Columbia127721
Wasco122226
Lincoln113920
Hood River107129
Morrow105014
Crook78118
Clatsop7796
Baker6769
Curry4387
Tillamook4302
Lake3836
Harney2786
Grant2301
Wallowa1445
Gilliam541
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3596760

Reported Deaths: 54134
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles120186822015
Riverside2909043892
San Bernardino2877823137
San Diego2627813385
Orange2625504173
Santa Clara1116381822
Kern104181942
Fresno961841488
Sacramento941821510
Alameda812551289
Ventura78368883
San Joaquin672841182
Contra Costa63297708
Stanislaus56702957
Tulare48203770
Monterey42404331
San Mateo39305525
San Francisco34526432
Santa Barbara32301423
Solano30305167
Merced29376413
Sonoma28417303
Imperial26970641
Kings22175227
Placer20035232
San Luis Obispo19835246
Madera15624214
Santa Cruz14790187
Marin13358198
Yolo12920185
Shasta11102179
Butte11050169
El Dorado9204100
Napa910975
Sutter892398
Yuba579539
San Benito579061
Lassen562325
Tehama511852
Nevada403374
Tuolumne397259
Mendocino383944
Amador348441
Humboldt326633
Lake318541
Glenn224123
Colusa214213
Calaveras192849
Siskiyou179014
Inyo133437
Mono12194
Del Norte10275
Plumas6546
Modoc4604
Mariposa3957
Trinity3735
Sierra1000
Alpine840
Unassigned00
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