Nearly two dozen massive wildfires continued to ravage parts of California on Saturday, fueled by high temperatures and ongoing lightning strikes, including 100 that hit on Friday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) said.
The fires have killed six people and incinerated nearly 700 buildings since beginning after an earlier lightning storm last week. Together, the blazes have burned nearly a million acres, the agency said Saturday.
Wildfire is threatening parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, the forested region near the University of California at Santa Cruz and a wide swath of the area between San Francisco and the state capital of Sacramento.
Nearly 14 000 firefighters have been deployed to the blazes, but containment of the largest ones remains low and the state has requested additional support from other states and local jurisdictions in California, CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant said in a press release on Saturday.
Additional lightning storms are expected later this weekend, and the danger of new or growing wildfire is extreme, Berlant said.
The fires more than doubled in size on Friday, becoming some of the largest in state history and threatening small towns in the path of the flames. In addition to the fatalities, 43 firefighters and civilians have been hurt.
Including smaller blazes, crews are fighting a total of 560 wildfires across the state, California Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday. Evacuations have been ordered in numerous regions. About 175 000 people were told to leave their homes, although many in the community around Vacaville between Sacramento and San Francisco have been allowed to return.
In Santa Cruz, a city of around 65 000 people on California’s central coast, residents were told to prepare “go bags” as bulldozers cut fire lines and flames came within a mile of the University of California Santa Cruz campus.