According to a Sunday report by authorities at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire), there have been more than 7,900 wildfires in the state since August 15. In addition to a massive amount of scorched acreage, the fires are also responsible for at least 26 deaths and the destruction of more than 6,100 structures. Eight of the largest fires have burned at least 100,000 acres each. This startling new report puts into sharp focus the terror that the state has had to battle over the last month.
Latest on California’s Biggest Fires: Firefighters are having a challenging time finding relief from the growing flames. Just as they make progress with one fire, another blaze will begin to intensify. Almost 19,000 firefighters are now going to work to try to control the spread of the raging infernos. California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that the damage assessments are still ongoing, meaning that the structural damage is likely far greater than what official reports may indicate at this time.Read More »
Here are a few updates on the current biggest fires wreaking havoc in California.
- Bobcat Fire – Located in Los Angeles County, the Bobcat Fire grew over the weekend to an estimated 109,000 acres. The blaze is only 17% contained as of Tuesday morning, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people fleeing the flames. Residents of the Antelope Valley are the latest to be put on evacuation notice. Sunday’s fire movement encroached toward the San Gabriel Wilderness Area as the blaze grew closer to Highway 2 and threatened the Mount Wilson Observatory. Authorities are warning residents of Big Pine, Juniper Hills, and Valyermo to be on alert.
The Bobcat Fire continues to be fueled by high winds and dry conditions, however, Tuesday’s weather conditions are a bit more promising. As of Tuesday morning, 1,100 homes and approximately 4,000 residents remained under evacuation orders. The majority of these evacuation notices are in the suburban areas of Pasadena and the mountain community of Wrightwood.
- August Complex Fire – This Tehama County fire encompasses multiple fires that have merged. These fires include the Elkhorn, Hopkins, Willow, Vinegar, and Doe blazes. The conglomeration has already burned over 878,000 acres and killed one person. Depending on the zone, the fire is contained at a rate between 29% and 40%.
- Creek Fire – Burning in the heart of the Sierra National Forest, the Creek Fire is 30% contained after destroying over 283,000 acres. The fire is being blamed for the destruction of at least 855 structures.
- North Complex Fire – Authorities are making progress in the containment of the North Complex Fire. Although this blaze has chewed through over 299,000 acres, it is now 74% contained as it continues to burn through the Plumas National Forest. This particularly dangerous fire has destroyed at least 1,784 Structures and killed 15 people.
- El Dorado Fire – Located in San Bernardino County, the El Dorado Fire is now 60% contained after ravaging approximately 22,000 acres. This is the infamous fire that was sparked by a pyrotechnic device used during a gender reveal party. One firefighter tragically died last week battling this blaze. Charles Morton, 39, died on September 17 while working to contain the fire. Evacuations are still in place as a result of this fire.
Air Quality Update: While the Bay Area is seeing better air quality ratings this week, other parts of the state are not as fortunate. At one point early Monday, the region of Mammoth Lakes was experiencing air quality at hazardous levels. While the air cleared somewhat, it is still considered to be dangerous outside for most individuals.
The North Complex Fire is also causing the air quality index to spike in parts of Plumas County and near the Sierra Nevada foothills. Yosemite National Park is also dealing with air in the “very unhealthy” range. The popular park was forced to close last week due to dangerous air quality.
The good news is that relief appears to be on the way for much of Southern California. Most of the current smoke advisories expired at the end of the day Monday. According to the latest report from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, southerly winds should begin to push out the smoke emanating from the El Dorado and Bobcat fires north. Areas that need to be aware of unhealthy air quality ranges include sensitive individuals living in the San Gabriel Valley, Pomona Valley, and in areas throughout the San Gabriel Mountains and the Inland Empire.
Elsewhere on the West Coast: While California is still battling a few massive blazes, residents in weary Oregon and Washington are breathing a sigh of relief. Cooler temperatures and rain helped to tame the blazes burning throughout the Pacific Northwest. Residents of Seattle and Portland also enjoyed healthy air quality indexes over the weekend, allowing them to get back outside and breathe in the fresh air. Heavy rain is expected in the Seattle area throughout the week.
Despite the cooler weather in Oregon, authorities are warning that conditions may begin to worsen slightly through Tuesday. Drier and warmer weather will move across the majority of western Oregon, possibly causing the fires to flare up again. However, more rain is expected in the Willamette Valley as the week progresses. This includes areas stretching from Eugene down into Northern California.
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