More than 100,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes in California in the wake of some of the worst fires in its history, and entire areas were covered by thick clouds of smoke on Friday.
Forest fires caused by lightning strikes in California reached a magnitude rarely seen in this state on Friday, August 21, from which more than 100,000 residents had to be evacuated.
The fires started by tens of thousands of lightning bolts, driven by record heat and low humidity, have already claimed the lives of at least five people, according to local officials. LNU Lightning Complex alone started almost 90,000 hectares of smoke on Friday morning.
In particular, it threatened the vines of Napa and Sonoma counties, which had already been exposed to such fires in recent years. And the risks of infection with the new coronavirus drove some of the 119,000 evacuees to take refuge in parking lots or on the edge of beaches, rather than in the residential centers offered by the authorities.
In the coastal city of Santa Cruz, authorities have urged tourists to leave their hotels vacant to provide beds for people fleeing the fires.
Daniel Berlant, representative of the California Fire Prevention Bureau, praised the firefighters’ efforts over the past 24 hours: “They are making progress, but the weather is not helping us.” California recorded on Sunday what may be the third hottest temperature on earth – 54.4 ° C in Death Valley – if the mercury is to fall slightly over the weekend, the risk of more thunderstorms. and therefore the lightning, leaving the agency in “state of alert”.
In a speech to the Democratic convention on Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom emphasized the direct cause and effect of the link between climate change and these fires. “Climate change is a reality,” he said. “If you do not believe it, come to California. At a news conference on Friday, the governor said firefighters from Texas, New Mexico and Oregon had been sent as reinforcements and that other states must help them as well.
CA FIRES UPDATE:
– More than 12,000 lightning strikes
– 560 fires since this started
– 18 new fires since yesterday
– 20 large fires
– 771K acres burned (that’s about the size of Rhode Island)
Grateful for our firefighters and first responders on the front line who keep CA safe.
– Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) 21 August 2020
In total, more than 312,000 acres have been decimated in California since the start of this episode, mostly in uninhabited areas. These fires, which usually occurred between August and November, have become more common and larger in California in recent years, in part due to climate change.
The deadliest fire in California history, called Camp Fire, took place in November 2018 in the upstate. It had killed 86 people. The fumes of fires also raised warnings for air pollution, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area. U.S. weather services expected the sky to remain “foggy and smoky,” at least “in the short term.”
With AFP and Reuters