Aug. 19 (UPI) — California fire officials blamed continued lightning and intense heat for expanding fires in the San Francisco Bay area and several other areas in Northern California, burning tens of thousands of acres overnight.
The fires, known collectively as the SCU Lightning Complex fires, grew from 35,000 acres to 85,000 acres from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning. The largest fires burned in five different counties — Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Stanislaus.
The wildfires started to threaten Solano County, forcing some residents to flee overnight.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Tuesday as extreme heat fueled the numerous wildfires. Newsom’s order covered all of California in hope of getting help to affected areas faster.
Fire officials said Wednesday morning that 50 structures had been destroyed and 1,900 stood in the way of the blaze so far.
“Last night, we saw a major increase in fire activity throughout both San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, and we saw several of the fires merge together,” Cal Fire Deputy Chief Jonathan Cox said Wednesday morning. “This is a very active timber fire burning in two counties, with a serious threat to both public safety and for structures that are out in front of it.”
State officials said California was receiving assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help fight blazes in Napa, Nevada and Monterey counties.
“We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions,” Newsom said. “California and its federal and local partners are working in lockstep to meet the challenge and remain vigilant in the face of continued dangerous weather conditions.”