Thousands of people forced to flee raging California wildfires

22 August 2020, 08:28

A woman surveys the remains of her partner's property in California
A woman surveys the remains of her partner's property in California. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Wildfires sparked by lightning in Northern California have spread to become some of the largest in the state's history.

The rapid spread of the fires has forced thousands of people to flee their homes and destroyed hundreds of dwellings and other structures.

More than 12,000 firefighters aided by helicopters and air tankers are battling the fires throughout California.

Three groups of fires are burning north, east and south of San Francisco. They have together scorched 991 square miles, destroyed more than 500 structures and killed five people.

At least 100,000 people are under evacuation orders.

A woman comforts an injured llama after fires swept through in Vacaville, California
A woman comforts an injured llama after fires swept through in Vacaville, California. Picture: PA

The number of personnel assigned tackling a cluster of blazes burning in the heart of wine country north of San Francisco - doubled to more than 1,000 firefighters on Friday, Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls said.

"I'm happy to say there are resources all around the fire today. We have engines on all four sides of it working hand-in-hand with the bulldozers to start containing this fire, putting it to bed," Mr Nicholls said.

Civilian firefighters assist with tackling the flames in California
Civilian firefighters assist with tackling the flames in California. Picture: PA

Fire crews with help from "copious amounts of fixed-wing aircraft" were working on Friday to stop a large blaze from reaching communities in the West Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, he said.

The fires, coming during a heat wave that has brought temperatures of more than 37C, are taxing the state's firefighting capacity.

But assistance from throughout the country has begun to arrive, with 10 states sending fire crews, engines and aircraft to help, Governor Gavin Newsom said.

"We have more people but it's not enough. We have more air support but it's still not enough and that's why we need support from our federal partners," Mr Newsom said.

There are 560 fires burning in the state, many small and remote but there are about two dozen major fires, mainly in Northern California. Many blazes were sparked by thousands of lightning strikes earlier in the week.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Mark Rowley says the number of officers in the Met is falling

Met Police officer numbers drop as force calls for 'thousands of applicants' in new recruitment drive

Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid

Joe Biden cancels campaign event after testing positive for Covid-19

Starmer is set to push for a migrant return deal with the EU

Starmer to push for new migrant return deal with EU, as he seeks to 'renew UK's relationship with Europe' at summit

Keir Starmer faces a challenge over the two-child benefit cap

Keir Starmer seeks to stave off Labour backbench revolt over benefit cap with child poverty taskforce

A man has been shot dead in Kirkby

Man shot dead on residential street close to Liverpool training ground, as police launch murder investigation

Joe Biden has hinted he could step aside from the race against Donald Trump for the White House

Biden hints he could quit election race against Trump on medical advice, as top Democrat calls for him to stand down

The scandal surrounding Strictly Come Dancing has deepened after footage showing former professional dancer James Jordan telling his celebrity partner Georgina Bouzova "kill you" surfaced on social media.

Strictly scandal deepens as footage showing ex-pro telling partner he will 'kill her' emerges

Liz Truss

Reference to Truss' 'disaster' mini-budget removed from King's Speech files after ex-PM complains to civil service chief

Police found "over a dozen" firearms at Crooks' home

Thomas Crooks' father 'called police on the day of the Trump rally shooting'

Cameron Jones left his dying fiancee Demi by the side of the road

Moment driver flees from car wreckage leaving fiancee to die - before he later blames her for horror crash

Kim Johnson wants the two-child benefit cap to be scrapped

Labour MP calls for two-child benefit cap to be axed as she plans King's Speech amendment after policy retained

Adele has played 90 shows in Las Vegas

Adele announces she is stepping back from music after growing to ‘absolutely hate’ fame

Two British travel agents are believed to be the pair found shot dead and their bodies burned in a car in Malmo.

British travel agents thought to be pair shot dead and burned in car in Malmo

Two dead and two children in hospital after house fire in Blackpool

Two die and two children rushed to hospital after house fire in Blackpool

Locals have been warned to avoid the area

Locals warned 'do not open your doors' as huge fire erupts on Birmingham industrial estate

Joe Biden his facing pressure to step down ahead of November's election.

Joe Biden wrongly claims he will cap rent rises at $55 in latest gaffe