Lightning has started hundreds of wildfires in California in the past few days, reports California Fire spokesman Jeremy Rahn on Wednesday, August 19th. Over 300,000 acres have already been burned since the lightning storm on Monday night. At least 23 major fires continue to burn in Napa, Sonoma, Solano and five other counties.
So far, August has seen a historic and brutal multiday heat wave, which sucked moisture from grasslands and scrub forest with 100-degree temperatures leaving them prime tinder for the lightning-started fires. On Tuesday, while 375 fire teams were called to the LNU Lightning Complex fires, California governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency to concentrate firefighting resources where they are needed most.
Vacaville, a city of approximately 100,000 between San Francisco and Sacramento, is among the worst-hit areas. The fires are closing in on the city, and so far parts of the city are under evacuation orders.
Thuy Ngo, who lives just outside Vacaville, had to watch his barn burn down early Wednesday morning, despite the efforts he and his family took to drench his 30-acre fields. “We didn’t think the fire would come down here this fast,” he told CNN in an interview. “It’s just heart-wrenching. … It’s just gone.” Ngo and his wife bought the property two years ago, intending to make a working farm out of it. They, like many other, will be evacuated to a senior center in Sacramento which is being used as an evacuation center.
Firefighters are focusing on getting people out of the worst-hit areas, where fires have been rampantly jumping roads.
As if matters weren’t dire enough, at least one fire among those currently raging in northern California is not due to lightning. California State Park officials detained a man in Big Sur on suspicion of wildfire arson. He’s being held on $2 million bail.