Forest fires consume 46,000 acres near California wine-producing area
Los Angeles, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- A series of forest fires resulting from the intense heat, very dry conditions and numerous electrical storms have burned about 190 square kilometers (some 46,000 acres) in the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of northern California, authorities reported on Wednesday.
The fires have markedly affected the Napa Valley, the state’s major wine-producing area, along with other counties, including Sonoma and Solano, forcing more than 100,000 local residents to evacuate.
In fact, authorities in Sonoma County warned on Wednesday afternoon about an immediate threat to life due to the blazes currently in progress.
The flames have spread throughout the grape-growing region to the Santa Cruz Mountains, moving rapidly and fed by an intense heat wave, resulting in widespread power blackouts in the area.
Over the past 72 hours, California has also been hit with more than 10,800 lightning strikes, which have sparked at least 367 new fires, most of them quite limited in scope and many of which presumably have died out on their own, according to the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Given the situation, state Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday declared a state of emergency because of the dozens of larger fires still besetting the drought-stricken region, which is being afflicted by an historic heat wave.
Because of the high temperatures, about a dozen new forest and brush fires have been reported over the past two days.
“We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions,” the governor said in a statement.
“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,” Newsom added.
On Sunday, the mercury in southern California’s Death Valley rose to 130 F (54 C), possibly the highest reading on Earth in almost 90 years.
The fires, which are producing a huge amount of smoke, are occurring while the state is also battling a surge in coronavirus cases, a double-whammy situation that is raising fears about the safety of firefighters and the people who have had to evacuate their homes and take refuge in public shelters.