Both northern and southern California have been hit by sudden wildfires. The acting governor has declared a state of emergency.
Wildfires have threatened the homes of tens of thousands of people in northern California. Known as the Camp Fire, it has destroyed thousands of structures, currently threatens 15,000 more, and has considerably worsened the air quality in the Bay Area.
“Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it’s that kind of devastation,” said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late Thursday, speaking of a town of 27,000 residents located around 180 miles northeast of San Francisco, in a press statement. “The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out.”
“It’s a very dangerous and very serious situation,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said in a press statement. “We’re working very hard to get people out. The message I want to get out is: If you can evacuate, you need to evacuate.”
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has determined that air quality in the region qualifies as unhealthy. Residents are being warned to limit their time outdoors and make sure their windows are closed while inside.
A Facebook post by Brynn Parrott Chatfield shows the horrifying experience of escaping through the flames:
Here’s a video on the way to Paradise. pic.twitter.com/Y2LWgfMbp7
#DEVELOPING I don’t use the word “massive” very often, but this huge black plume of smoke is jaw-dropping over the #CampFire near #Paradise #abc7now pic.twitter.com/8twUKNxMAN
In total, the fire has burned over 20,000 acres, along with injuring firefighters and residents. Acting California Governor Gavin Newsom, just elected on Tuesday, has declared a state of emergency in Butte County.
In addition to the Camp Fire, fires have also sprung up north of Los Angeles and threatened thousands of homes there. The suburb of Thousand Oaks, recently victimized by a mass shooting, is also facing a serious blaze.
These southern fires are given a helping hand by the Santa Anas, winds that originate inland and historically have made areas of the state more vulnerable to fires. As winds originate in the low-lying inland deserts, they intensify in strength as they weave their way through the nearby mountain ranges.
“The wind is definitely pushing this thing toward the ocean just like the Springs fire a few years ago,” said Ventura County Fire Capt. Brian McGrath, speaking to the Los Angeles Times. “It’s very fast.”
#HillFire from a local in Camarillo pic.twitter.com/nojMihXavU
Source: San Francisco Chronicle