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A sign warning people about Covid-19 is surrounded by flames during the Hennessey fire near Lake Berryessa in Napa, California on August 18, 2020.

A sign warning people about Covid-19 is surrounded by flames during the Hennessey fire near Lake Berryessa in Napa, California on August 18, 2020. The Hennessey fire has merged with at least 7 fires and is now called the LNU Lightning Complex fires. Dozens of fires are burning out of control throughout Northern California as fire resources are spread thin. (Photo: by Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

'Lightning Siege' Sparks Hundreds of Fires in California as New Flames Overwhelm Resources

"Throughout the state of California right now, we are stretched thin for crews."

Andrea Germanos

Authorities in California announced Wednesday evacuations for thousands of people as multiple wildfires left firefighters facing "depleted" resources and area residents dealt with rolling blackouts, high heat, poor air quality, and possible loss of homes—all as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage.

"This is bad," climate advocacy group Rainforest Action Network said of the situation in the state—which just days ago may have recorded the hottest temperature officially verified.

Those battling the blazes expressed concern about adequate capacity. 

"Throughout the state of California right now, we are stretched thin for crews," state fire spokesperson Will Powers told the Associated Press.  "Air resources have been stretched thin throughout the whole state."

At a press conference Wednesday, Cal Fire spokesperson Jeremy Rahn said, "Over the past 72 hours, California has experienced a historic lightning siege." An estimated 11,000 lightning strikes sparked 367 new wildfires, he said, adding that over 300,000 acres have burned across the state.

The fires include the LNU Lightning Complex, which encompasses multiple fires spanning five northern California counties and has blamed for the loss of at least 50 homes. "Two other lightning-caused fire groups, the SCU Lightning Complex fires and the CZU August Lightning Complex fires, have similarly impacted residents and firefighters across the greater Bay Area," CBS San Francisco reported.  

"Firefighting resources are depleted as new fires continue to ignite," said Rahn. 

Journalists and others on social media have been sharing dramatic images of the fires:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who on Tuesday declared a statewide emergency, said at a press conference Wednesday, "This fire season has been very active and, not surprisingly, that activity is taking shape in a number of counties up and down the state of California."

Among those who were forced to evacuate their homes was Taylor Craig.

Speaking to the Marin Independent Journal Tuesday from a Walmart parking lot in Santa Cruz County, Craig said, "I'm a climate refugee."


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