california fires
October 27, 2020

Two wind-driven brush fires in Orange County, California, have burned more than 10,000 acres combined and forced at least 100,000 residents to evacuate from their homes.

The Silverado fire broke out in Irvine on Monday morning, and by evening it had scorched 7,200 acres. Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy told the Los Angeles Times that a 26-year-old firefighter and a 31-year-old firefighter both sustained second- and third-degree burns while battling the blaze, and are now intubated at a local hospital. "They're gravely injured," he said. "We're doing all we can for them."

On Monday evening, Southern California Edison told the state's Public Utilities Commission it is investigating whether its equipment may have sparked the Silverado fire. So far, no homes have been reported destroyed.

A second blaze, the Blue Ridge fire near Yorba Linda, has burned 3,000 acres and destroyed one home. The dry Santa Ana winds are fanning the flames, and gusts of up to 70 mph were recorded in Orange County on Monday. Relative humidity was at 5 percent, "which is bone-dry," National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Gregoria told the Times, and the dry air combined with high winds is "creating these critical fire conditions." Catherine Garcia

September 28, 2020

The Chateau Boswell Winery, one of the few privately owned family wineries remaining in California's Napa Valley, was destroyed on Sunday night as the Glass fire swept through the property.

Located in St. Helena, the Chateau Boswell Winery was established in 1979, and is one of dozens of wineries that dot the famed Silverado Trail. The Glass fire has burned at least 11,000 acres, and KPIX reports that three other wineries — Reverie Winery, Viader Winery, and Davis Estates — are being threatened by flames. A boutique inn and several other buildings have also been destroyed in St. Helena.

Two new fast-moving fires, the Boysen fire and Shady fire, started burning on Sunday night, and are being fueled by high winds. The fires have forced at least 35,000 people to evacuate from Napa and Sonoma counties. Catherine Garcia

September 21, 2020

The Bobcat fire in Los Angeles County is continuing to threaten the historic Mount Wilson Observatory, as well as communications towers used by local television and radio stations and law enforcement.

Last week, flames were within 500 feet of the 116-year-old observatory, but firefighters were able to keep them at bay. Since the weekend, fire crews have been battling flareups at the top of the mountain, caused by winds out of the east. "Just when I thought the danger was over, it wasn't," Thomas Meneghi, the observatory's executive director, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. Meneghi also said there is a 530,000-gallon water tank on the observatory grounds, and over the last several days, firefighters have used half of it to battle the blaze.

Since Sept. 6, the Bobcat fire has scorched more than 105,000 acres, making it one of the largest fires in L.A. County history. It is only 15 percent contained, and crews are having a hard time getting a handle on it due to the rocky terrain in the Angeles National Forest. The Bobcat fire has moved down into the Antelope Valley, where it has destroyed several homes and buildings and is quickly burning through low-lying desert shrubbery. Catherine Garcia

September 20, 2020

The Bobcat fire in Los Angeles County has grown to nearly 100,000 acres, and continues to threaten the historical Mt. Wilson Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains.

This is one of the largest fires ever recorded in the county; the biggest blaze, 2009's Station fire, burned 160,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest. The Bobcat fire is only 15 percent contained, and is moving through communities in the Antelope Valley, the Los Angeles Times reports. There are more than 1,600 firefighters on the scene, with some coming from as far away as New York.

"We're still in the thick of a good firefight," Andrew Mitchell, public information officer with the U.S. Forest Service, said on Sunday. There were some flare-ups around Mt. Wilson Observatory overnight, but crews were able to stamp them out. Forecasters expect lower temperatures and calmer winds over the next few nights, and Mitchell said he thinks "the next couple days we'll start to really get a handle on this fire because the conditions will be right and we'll be able to really start backing it with all our assets."

There are 27 major wildfires now burning in California, the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said on Sunday. Since mid-August, blazes in the state have killed 26 people and destroyed more than 6,100 structures. Catherine Garcia

September 9, 2020

More than 14,000 firefighters are battling 28 major fires in California, and to protect the public and fire crews, the U.S. Forest Service announced that as of Wednesday evening, all 18 national forests in the state are temporarily closed.

Regional Forester Randy Moore said in a statement the closures will remain in place "until conditions improve and we are confident that national forest visitors can recreate safely. I ask all Californians and visitors to take these closures and evacuations seriously for their own safety and to allow our firefighters to focus on the mission of safely suppressing these fires."

Some of the fires now burning are among the largest ever recorded in California. One blaze has scorched more than 250,000 acres around Oroville, and overnight, the North Complex fires in Plumas, Butte, and Yuba counties spread at a rate of 2,000 acres an hour, the Los Angeles Times reports. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced on Wednesday evening that three bodies were recovered in areas that were burned by the Bear fire.

In August, dozens of fires were triggered in Northern California by lightning strikes, and Jacob Welsh, public information officer for Pacific Northwest Team 2, told the Times that for "wildland firefighters, we've been in an all-hands-on-deck situation for weeks now. I've never seen anything like this in 20 years." There have been 7,657 fires reported statewide this year, burning more than 2.5 million acres — an increase of more than 2,000 percent over the number of acres burned at this time in 2019, the Times reports. Catherine Garcia

September 9, 2020

California's wildfires left Bay Area skies shrouded in an apocalyptic orange glow Wednesday morning.

Several San Francisco residents posted images and video to social media of the city's skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge against the backdrop of the haze from the blazes that continue to rage throughout the state.

Some folks on the ground suggested their footage actually didn't do justice to how striking the scene was, while others captured shots from ascending planes, noting that the scent of the flames were present inside the cabin. Tim O'Donnell

August 20, 2020

At least two people died on Wednesday while helping fight wildfires that are burning out of control in Northern California, officials said Thursday.

NBC Bay Area reports that a Pacific Gas and Electric worker died while assisting firefighters battling the LNU Lightning Complex fires, a massive blaze that is actually several fires connected together in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo, and Solano counties. A second man died when the helicopter he was piloting crashed as he dropped water on the Hills fire in the San Joaquin Valley. He worked for a private company contracted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

There are more than 367 fires burning in the state, with many sparked by dry lightning strikes. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday said the state is "experiencing fires the likes of which we haven't seen in many, many years," and the state's resources are stretched thin.

The LNU Lightning Complex fires have destroyed more than 100 structures and are threatening more than 30,000 more, fire officials said Thursday. It is zero percent contained, with 587 firefighters on the scene. Catherine Garcia

August 19, 2020

There are 367 separate fires now burning in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said on Wednesday, and many are believed to have been sparked by dry lightning strikes that have been hitting Northern and Central California since Sunday.

California officials said that over the last 72 hours, there have been about 10,849 lightning strikes in the state, the Los Angeles Times reports. One of the biggest blazes is the Hennessey fire in Napa County, which started on Monday. It has since spread to two other counties, Solano and Yolo, destroying 50 buildings, damaging 50 structures, and forcing thousands to evacuate.

It's been a "very active" fire season, Newsom said, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shared that so far this year, more than 300,000 acres have burned in the state, compared to 270,000 acres in all of 2019. Firefighters are battling the blazes amid a brutal heat wave that has been gripping the state since last week, causing record highs in Death Valley, Santa Ana, Burbank, and Woodland Hills. Catherine Garcia

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