Firefighting Crews Make Slow Progress With California Fires

Firefighting Crews Make Slow Progress With California Fires

At least 100,000 people are under evacuation orders.

Light winds, cool and moist air hitting land from the ocean and more equipment arriving for firefighters helped them make their most significant progress battling three massive Northern California fire "complexes" - multiple wildfires in one area being treated as a single incident.

Video footage posted on social media showed giant Redwood trees, some more than 2,000 years old, standing largely unscathed among the torched ruins of buildings in and around Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

But danger loomed with the threat of thunderstorms and lightning forecast for Sunday that could spark new fires and overwhelm firefighters battling hundreds of fires throughout the state.

Four people died in the so-called LNU Complex fire in the North Bay area that has destroyed more than 480 homes and structures, including a winery as it burned over 219,000 acres in five counties.

The two largest blazes - dubbed the SCU Lightening Complex and the LNU Lightening Complex - had burned a total of just under 600,000 acres (240,000 hectares) and almost 500 structures.

TheSCU Complex-which grew from a group of 20 fires in Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties-exploded overnight by more than 40 percent to become the largest in California.

During a press briefing on Saturday morning, Santa Cruz County authorities said more favorable weather conditions had enabled firefighters to better contain the fire and protect homes.

With wildfires threatening communications, transportation, gas lines, schools, parks, watersheds, the Lick Observatory and about 30,500 homes in Santa Clara County, FEMA today announced that it would chip in federal funds to combat the conflagration. While Lemelin says the extra help is needed, there are some fires that are just too hard to fight right now.

"At least if we're here, we know exactly what's going on", Napa resident John Newman, 68, told the San Francisco Chronicle as he sat in a lawn chair in his driveway.

Fire officials said lightning strikes had ignited 560 fires in the past week, the largest of which are the LNU, the SCU and CZU complex fires in the Bay Area. Even some areas in northern San Benito County have been placed into an evacuation warning zone.

Newsom further informed that two of the fires there are now the 7th and 10th largest fires in state history and this has destroyed as much as 300 square miles each.

The Carmel fire, burning just southwest of the River fire, has charred more than 5,523 acres and destroyed 32 structures, fire officials said.

It's an extraordinary expanse, reflecting the state's caution after seeing so many fatalities in the past few fire seasons and witnessing the stunning ferocity of the one underway.

As of Friday, the Hennessey Fire is at zero per cent containment according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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