Aided by favorable weather and reinforcements, firefighters were cautiously optimistic Tuesday about their progress in hemming a series of massive lightning-sparked wildfires on the outskirts of the Bay Area. The unprecedented blazes, which began last week, have charred more than 1 million acres, killing at least seven people, forcing some 170,000 residents to evacuate and destroying more than 1,200 homes and other buildings.
At this time last year, California had about 4,300 wildfires that burned about 87.5 square miles — the toll this year is 7,000 fires and nearly 2,200 square miles, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.
“We are dealing with different climate conditions that are precipitating in fires the likes we haven’t seen in modern recorded history,” he said.
Cal Fire is currently in talks with the National Guard and the California Conservation Corps about providing reinforcements as an already devastating wildfire season threatens to get even worse.
The early season blazes have grown to some of the largest in state history, with firefighters stretched increasingly thin as they also deal with complications from the coronavirus pandemic and depleted inmate crews.
“Historically it’s September and October when we experience our largest and our most damaging wildfires. So to be in the middle of August and already have the second- and the third-largest wildfires in our state’s history is very concerning to us,” Daniel Berlant, chief of wildfire planning and engineering at Cal Fire, said Tuesday.