More Than 10,000 Lightning Strikes Have Sparked Wildfires Across California
A combination of high temperatures and severe thunderstorms have caused hundreds of wildfires throughout California.
California’s governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency after 367 fires were ignited, 23 are said to be major blazes.
The fires are believed to be the result of the hot weather and more than 10,000 lightning strikes over the last few days. It’s the heaviest spate of thunderstorms the state has seen in over a decade.
Across the whole state, authorities believe the fires have burned through 330,000 acres of land, releasing so much smoke that it is visible from space via satellite imagery, MailOnline reports.
Fires burned across 46,000 acres of hills and mountains around Fairfield, and the neighbouring town of Vacaville in particular, late on Tuesday, August 18, and into the next day.
Vacaville is home to around 100,000 people and has been said to be the ‘most at risk city’, according to BBC News. At least 50 homes there have been destroyed as well as another 50 being damaged by the fires.
Following the fires, thousands of people across the state have been told to evacuate their homes, many of whom were under mandatory evacuation orders.
So far, only one death has been reported, which was that of a helicopter pilot. In a bid to tackle the blaze, the pilot of a Bell UH-1H helicopter jumped into action to disperse water over an area of land near the city of Coalinga, but sadly died after their helicopter crashed.
The unidentified pilot privately owned the helicopter, which was a ‘Call When Needed’ aircraft, meaning officials would get in touch with the owner to help respond to emergencies. The pilot is said to have been the only person onboard.
It’s not just the fires impacting the environment, as smoke has travelled to the Bay Area, and many regions have reported hazardous and unhealthy air quality. Residents in San Francisco reported soot and ash falling from the sky, and there has been a ban on burning wood in the area.
In a statement earlier this week, cited by Deadline, Governor Gavin Newsom addressed the wildfires.
We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions. 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.
Making the wildfires worse is the ongoing heatwave the state is currently enduring. On Sunday, August 16, Death Valley, located in California, hit 130°F (54.4°C) which may be the hottest temperature to ever be recorded on Earth. As the land gets hotter, wildfires become more likely to break out.
Despite the heatwave, the high temperature recorded at the valley came as a shock to many as the days are shorter in the US come mid-August, and the sun’s angle is lower, making it less likely to see an all-time high temperature.
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CreditsMailOnline and 2 others
Helicopter pilot crashes and dies dropping water on raging California wildfires after 10,849 lightning strikes sparked 367 blazes that have engulfed 300,000 acres - forcing Travis Air Force Base and tens of thousands to evacuate amid historic heatwave