Newsom Declares State of Emergency In CA As Wildfires Rage
Lightning strikes in Northern California have set off a series of wildfires so severe, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency late Tuesday afternoon. Thousands of people were under orders to evacuate in regions surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday morning as nearly 40 wildfires blazed across the state amid a blistering heatwave now in its second week.
The Jones Fire burning in Nevada County in the Sierra Madre is still “very active” and more than 4,000 residents remain evacuated, emergency officials said Wednesday morning. That fire has grown to 675 acres and is 5% contained, a decrease in containment from 15% the previous evening. Just over 4,100 residents are under mandatory evacuation orders, and 1,200 more are in evacuation warnings, county emergency officials said. At least four homes have been destroyed in the hills northwest of Grass Valley and Nevada City. Much of the fire was burning through rural areas with steep terrain, making it difficult to get crews in.
In Vacaville, a city of about 100,000 that lies between San Francisco and Sacramento, fire officials said at least 50 structures were destroyed and 50 were damaged and that four people were injured. Residents were given evacuation orders at about 2:30 am.
Governor @GavinNewsom today declared a statewide emergency to help ensure the availability of vital resources to combat fires burning across the state, which have been exacerbated by the effects of the historic West Coast heat wave & sustained high winds. https://t.co/29FT9lLd6p
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) August 18, 2020
California was already dealing with major rolling blackouts and power outages due to the extended heatwave, with temperatures in southern parts of the state hitting record-breaking highs in the triple digits for days on end. And Death Valley may have recorded the hottest temperature ever on Earth on Tuesday when the temperature reached 130 degrees.
Evacuations are also being complicated by the current coronavirus pandemic, as shelters are already at capacity.