Fast-moving fires are spreading across Northern California, with wind-whipped flames forcing people to flee their homes.
RIGHT NOW The fires are spreading smoke across a wide region, with the National Weather Service warning that air quality in the Bay Area could be “very poor for the foreseeable future.”
Raging wildfires are forcing evacuations in Northern California.
Wildfires tore through Northern California on Wednesday, spreading rapidly and engulfing dozens of homes as firefighters battled to stop the blazes, which have forced thousands of evacuations and were caused by an extraordinary number of lightning strikes in recent days.
There have been about 10,849 lightning strikes in California over the last 72 hours, a “historic lightning siege” that has caused more than 367 new fires, Chief Jeremy Rahn, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said at a news conference. Gov. Gavin Newsom said that 23 of those fires are considered major blazes.
In Vacaville, a city of about 100,000 residents near Sacramento, people were ordered to flee as a combination of uncontrolled fires northwest of the city began to overtake homes. That group of fires, known together as the L.N.U. Lightning Complex, has destroyed more than 50 homes and is threatening nearly 2,000 more, the authorities said.
It grew more than 14,000 acres overnight and now covers 46,225 acres in Napa and Sonoma Counties — larger than the size of Washington, D.C. — and is completely uncontained, the authorities said. At least four people have been injured in the fires, which have blanketed much of the region in smoke. Firefighters were trying to determine on Wednesday whether some of the disparate fires had merged.