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Northern California is fighting off a a series wildfires that have scorched 771,000 acres and continue to threaten parts of the state.
More than 560 fires have started, from Santa Cruz to Napa to Vacaville, mostly caused by what California officials have described as a “historic lightning siege.” A heat wave has exacerbated the problem.
So far, five people have died in the fires and more than 119,000 others have had to evacuate from their homes. Cal Fire, the state’s fire authority, continues to battle the fires, including some of the largest in recent state history. One fire burned through Big Basin State Park, home of redwood trees, some of which are more than 1,000-years old.
Air quality across in Northern California continues to be an issue with some areas near Santa Cruz and San Jose reporting some of the world’s worst pollution levels on Friday. And the state is struggling to provide enough firefighters to help contain the blazes. During previous wildfires, California has used state prison inmates who volunteer for reduced sentences and a small amounts of money. But this year, access to those volunteers has dwindled as coronavirus outbreaks in prisons requires many inmates to be quarantined.
Earlier this week, California called for support from surrounding states to fight the fires. Ten have said they would send help.
At a news conference on Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said fires at the SCU Lightening Complex and the LNU Lightening Complex, which have burned nearly 450,000 acres combined, rank as the seventh and tenth largest fires in recent state history. He also said the weekend is expected to bring “monsoon-type weather conditions,” which could complicate matters.
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