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California reeling from more than 20 wildfires after 10,849 lightning strikes

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About two dozen large wildfires are blazing across the state California forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate as Gov. Gavin Newsom orders a state of emergency.

At least 23 massive fires, some triggered by lightning strikes and fueled by a historic heat wave and high winds, stretch from Napa, Sonoma, San Mateo and Contra Costa counties, and have triggered rolling power blackouts and unhealthy air quality across the region.

Over the last 72 hours with 10,849 lightning strikes were reported statewide, sparking roughly 367 new fires the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a press conference Wednesday. 

So far authorities believe the fires have burned through 300,000 acres and have released so much smoke, it’s visible from space via satellite imagery. 

On Wednesday Gov. Gavin Newsom announced there are 23 major fires and complexes, which are comprised of smaller blazes, burning in the state. As of Wednesday evening the CZU August Lightning Complex, the LNU Lightning Complex and the Carmel fire were zero percent contained. 

Much of the fires are affecting the San Francisco Bay Area, where thick smoke blanketed the city. 

About two dozen large wildfires are blazing across the state California forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate as Gov. Gavin Newsom orders a statewide state of emergency. Firefighters pictured attempting to extinguish the Hennessey Fire near Vacaville on Wednesday

Over the last 72 hours with 10,849 lightning strikes were reported statewide, sparking roughly 367 new fires the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Wednesday. A car burns as firefighters attempt to extinguish the Hennessey Fire near Vacaville in Northern California on Wednesday

A dead cow lays along a smouldering field in Vacaville, California during the LNU Lightning Complex fire, which is a group of separate fires in Northern California that stretches across five counties, on Wednesday

Bill Nichols, 84, works to save his home as the LNU Lightning Complex fires tear through Vacaville, California on Wednesday

Aerial footage shows how black plumes of smoke rise from dense forests that caught on fire in the LNU Lightning COmplex Fire in Vacaville and Napa County 

A staggering aeriel view of the fire shows how the LNU Lightning fire is razing through the mountains of Vacaville and Napa County

Some parts of the state, including Vacaville and Napa County, are covered in such thick smoke it’s visible from outer space

Police and firefighters went door-to-door before dawn on Wednesday in a frantic scramble to warn residents to evacuate as the LNU Lightning Complex fires encroached on Vacaville, a city of about 100,000 between San Francisco and Sacramento.

The main fires and complexes burning in California

The LNU Lightning Complex is a group of separate fires in Northern California that stretches across five counties, including Sonoma and Napa, that sparked Tuesday night. Some are believed to have merged for an estimated 42,000 decimated acres. 

The SCU Lightning Complex is 20 separate fires burning 85,000 acres in Santa Clara County that threatens more than 1,400 structures. 

The CZU August Lightning Complex is ravaging San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. It’s composed of five large fires razing through 10,000 acres.

The River Fire in Monterey County has consumed more than 10,000 acres 

Hours later the fire razed through, scorching trees and leaving burned animal carcasses behind.

Vacaville is now under red flag alert which means conditions are ideal for wildfires to spark and spread under hot, dry, windy weather. 

‘Red flag warning for very low humidity and gusty wind today into Thursday morning….very low humidity combined with gusty northwest to west wind will continue critical fire weather conditions today into Thursday morning,’ the Natioanl Weather Service said Wednesday.  

Fire officials said at least 50 structures were destroyed and 50 were damaged and that four people were injured.

The LNU Lightning Complex fire is rushing through Vacaville as the Woodward Fire has scorched through 700 acres in Point Reyes National Seashore.  

Resident Diane Bustos said she and her husband tried to drive out but their vehicle caught on fire and they were forced to flee the flames on foot.

‘I got all these flames on me and I lost my shoe, but I made it. God saved me,’ she said to KPIX-TV. 

Northern and Central California experienced an unusual active sequence of mostly dry lightning strikes Sunday night, sparking several fires.

The LNU Lightning Complex is a group of separate fires in Northern California that stretches across five counties, including Sonoma and Napa, that sparked Tuesday night. 

Some are believed to have merged for an estimated 42,000 decimated acres.

Nearly 600 firefighters are assigned to fighting that fire alone. Close to 2,000 structures are threatened in that blaze.  

This map by Cal Fire shows how blazes are raging up and down the entire state amid a historic heat wave, fueled by dry conditions, lightning strikes, and gusty winds

A firefighter looks on as a house is engulfed in flames in Vacaville, California by the LNU Lightning Complex fire

In this long exposure photograph, flames consumes both sides of a segment of Lake Berryessa during the Hennessey fire in the Spanish Flat area of Napa, California on Tuesday

An airplane drops fire retardant over homes in the Spanish Flat area of Napa late Tuesday against a fiery orange sky

An American flag blows in the wind in front of a burning home in Vacaville, California during the LNU Lightning Complex fire on Wednesday

The devastation of a burned down home in Vacaville during the LNU Lightning Complex fire pictured Wednesday as the state was in a state of emergency, reeling from a series of fast-moving fires

A dead bird is seen on a road near a burned residence in Vacaville, California during the LNU Lightning Complex fire Wednesday

The LNU Lightning Complex is a group of separate fires in Northern California that stretches across five counties, including Sonoma and Napa, that sparked Tuesday night. Some are believed to have merged for an estimated 42,000 decimated acres. Its devastation in Vacaville above on Wednesday

WATCH LIVE: Lightning Complex fire aerials in Vacaville and Napa County, California.

Posted by WTHR-TV on Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Officials do not have a clear number on exactly how many people have been told to leave their homes.

‘This is an incredibly emotional and stressful time for many of us who have endured many fires and natural disasters over the last couple of years,’ Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said. ‘We realize that this is a trigger point for many of you.’

State Sen. Bill Dodd, who represents the area, said the fires burning in Napa and Sonoma counties were mostly affecting less populated areas. 

Cal Fire requested 375 fire engines from out of state to help in taming the flames.

The SCU Lightning Complex is 20 separate fires burning 85,000 acres in Santa Clara County that threatens more than 1,400 structures. At least two first responders have been injured in this natural disaster.

The CZU August Lightning Complex is ravaging San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. It’s composed of five large fires razing through 10,000 acres. To tackle this inferno nearly 600 personnel and seven helicopters have been dispatched. At least three first responders have been injured working to put out these fires.

On Wednesday Gov. Gavin Newsom announced there are 23 major fires and complexes burning in the state. As of Wednesday evening the CZU August Lightning Complex, the LNU Lightning Complex and the Carmel fire were zero percent contained

A heat wave in the West has brought record triple digit temperatures which have in part encouraged the wildfires

Thousands of people were under orders to evacuate in regions surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday as the sky was covered in thick smoke

A man prepares to hose down a shop as flames from the Hennessey fire rage through the Spanish Flat area of Napa, California on Tuesday

Horses stand in an enclosure as the LNU Lightning Complex fires tear through the Spanish Flat community in unincorporated Napa County on Tuesday

Members of the Grizzly Firefighters work against the Carmel Fire near Carmel Valley, California on Tuesday

In San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, about 22,000 people were ordered to evacuate because of a fire burning in dense wooded parkland that threatened communities, Cal Fire spokesman Jonathan Cox said.   

‘This is a very active timber fire burning in two counties with a serious threat to both public safety and for structures that are out in front of it,’ he said. 

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that blaze and others were exhibiting ‘extreme fire behavior’ and challenging firefighters. There is rugged terrain in several of the areas and unexpectedly strong winds overnight fanned the flames.

‘Throughout the state of California right now, we are stretched thin for crews. Air resources have been stretched thin throughout the whole state,’  Will Powers, a state fire spokesman, said.

Smoke rises from the LNU Lightning Complex wildfires as seen from an AlertWildfire camera looking east from Mount St. Helena, north of Calistoga, California on Tuesday

A view of the LNU Lightning Complex fire seen above as captured by the Mount Konocti fire camera in Northern California

This view shows how burning mountains have become completely covered in smoke in California

In the East San Francisco Bay, a cluster of 20 separate lightning-sparked fires threatened about 1,400 structures in rugged terrain with dense brush. Strong winds and low humidity made the firefight challenging.

Blazes engulfed rural and forest areas near the San Francisco Bay Area, near Salinas in Monterey County, around Oroville Dam north of Sacramento, forested areas west of Silicon Valley, in remote Mendocino County and near the Nevada state line north of Lake Tahoe.

Several also were burning in northern coastline areas and in Southern California.

The cluster of wine country fires threaten an area that only last year grappled with another massive blaze that forced 200,000 to flee – a task made more complicated this year because of the pandemic.

To the south, evacuations were ordered for all of Boulder Creek to the west of Silicon Valley, a community of 5,000 high in the Santa Cruz mountains where windy, long, forested roads, some paved, some dirt, can easily become blocked during storms or fires. About 6,000 structures were threatened by that blaze.

Across the west nearly 45million people are under heat warnings and advisories on Wednesday.

California has seen at least seven temperatures broken hitting triple digit temperatures – including a staggering 111 degrees recorded in Paso Robles on Tuesday. 

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