Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

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."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

AOC Slams Conservative Dems Who Would Rather Skip Town Than Vote to Extend Eviction Ban

"We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority."

Jake Johnson ·


'A Devastating Failure': Eviction Ban Expires as House Goes on Vacation and Biden Refuses to Act

"We’re now in an eviction emergency," said Rep. Cori Bush. "Eleven million are now at risk of losing their homes at any moment. The House needs to reconvene and put an end to this crisis."

Jake Johnson ·


With Election Days Away, Bernie Sanders Headlines Get-Out-the-Vote Rally for Nina Turner

In his keynote speech, Sanders said corporate interests are pulling out all the stops to defeat Turner because "they know that when she is elected, she is going to stand up and take them on in the fight for justice."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush, Pressley, and Omar Sleep Outside Capitol to Demand Extension of Eviction Moratorium

Rep. Cori Bush, who was formerly unhoused, slammed her Democratic colleagues who "chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes."

Jake Johnson ·


As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·