The fire continues to rage this Saturday northern california around San Francisco, favored by weather conditions that suggest winds and thunderstorms on Sunday.
The largest focus in the region, the so-called LNU Lightning Complex (north of San Francisco), it is now the second most devastating fire in California history, with more than 127,000 acres destroyed.
Some 2,600 firefighters advanced in their fight against the blaze on Friday and the disaster has now been brought under control by 15%, down from 7% on Friday morning, according to the California fire department, CalFire.
Although until now it mainly covered uninhabited areas, the LNU has already destroyed 565 buildings and killed four people.
The two largest outbreaks destroyed a total of 240,000 hectares throughout the state, according to authorities. The fire broke out during the week after 72 hours of electrical storms with more than 12,000 lightning strikes.
Over 300 outbreaks in the entire state, including more than twenty considered of great magnitude, which prompted the governor to request international help to combat the flames.
Some of the biggest fires in the state ravaged this region, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate
Many of the nearly 119,000 evacuees have struggled to find shelter and they are reluctant to go to the shelters set up by the authorities fearful of contracting the coronavirus.
Southeast of San Francisco, another fire, the SCU complex, not far from San José, also advanced with more than 118,000 hectares consumed, favored by the heat in the region. By Friday night it had been 10% contained.
“We just haven’t seen anything like it in many, many years,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday.
Wineries in the famed Napa and Sonoma wine country, which have yet to recover from fires in previous years, are threatened by the SCU Complex, which is among the top ten largest fires on record.
Nature reserves have also been razed. Big Basin Redwoods State Park reported that some of its historic buildings had been destroyed by flames.
The park, which contains trees more than 500 years old, was “extensively damaged,” he added.
Cal Fire Deputy Director Daniel Berlant said some progress had been made in containing the flames.
He added that temperatures are expected to drop slightly over the weekend, but that there is a possibility of more lightning on Sunday night.
“We could experience a thunderstorm again, so we will remain on high alert, “said Berlant.
Residents in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties chose to sleep in trailers that were parked in parking lots or beaches along the Pacific coast.
Tourists in the area were also urged to leave hotels or rental houses.
They ask for help
Fire brigades, surveillance teams, and rescuers were arriving from various states, including Oregon, New Mexico and Texas, Newsom said.
But given the enormous dimensions of the disaster, help was also requested from Canada and Australia, which he said had “the best firefighters in the world.”
After criticizing Donald Trump for the president’s threats to withdraw funds to California for fire fighting alleging poor forest management, Newsom nevertheless acknowledged on Friday the president’s willingness to face the emergency.
“I have not made a single phone call to the president in which he has not responded quickly, and in almost every case he has responded favorably …” he said.
In San Francisco, authorities urged residents to stay indoors and issued an alert for seven counties through at least Sunday due to air quality.
“The various igneous complexes around the bay area and the central coast will keep the skies hazy and smoky, at least in the short term,” the National Weather Service said.