A serious and urgent situation unfolded in the city of Vacaville, about 35 miles southwest of Sacramento. The city of 100,000 is under partial evacuation orders because of the advancing flames.
There, the LNU Lightning Complex of fires, which has burned more than 46,000 acres in Sonoma, Lake, Napa and Solano counties, advanced into the community overnight and into the predawn hours, prompting urgent evacuations with social media reports of homes consumed by flames as residents fled. This complex includes the Hennessey Fire, which has charred 12,500 acres in Napa County.
The fires in Napa and Sonoma come just a few years after devastating fires there killed 22 in 2017 and wiped out numerous wineries.
Sparked by more than 20,000 lightning strikes and intensified by record-breaking heat, fires have erupted all over the state, spewing large columns of smoke and fouling air quality. The fires and evacuations continued expanding Wednesday.
- Thousands of structures were threatened by the CZU August Lightning Complex of fires in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties, where evacuations were ordered for large areas. This complex has burned 10,000 acres.
- The SCU Lightning Complex of about 20 fires, affecting locations in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, has consumed 85,000 acres and forced evacuations in several areas.
- The River Fire in Monterey County has consumed more than 10,000 acres, destroyed multiple structures and threatens more than 1,000 more, prompting mandatory evacuations there too.
Several firefighters have suffered injuries battling these blazes.
On Tuesday, the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates federal firefighting efforts, was placed on its highest alert level. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency because of the fires on Tuesday as well.
California has been battling a surge in cases of the novel coronavirus for the past two months, and evacuations may complicate efforts to get the virus under control, experts say.