Wildfires are once again ravaging California, with tens of thousands of acres burning up and down the state, forcing the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people and leaving many of those who are still in their homes without power.
On Sunday, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency. “We are deploying every resource available, and are coordinating with numerous agencies as we continue to respond to these fires,” he said. “It is critical that people in evacuation zones heed the warnings from officials and first responders, and have the local and state resources they need as we fight these fires.”
Here’s what we know about the blazes.
The Kincade fire is still raging in Northern California.
In a press conference Sunday, Newsom called the Kincade fire “the most stubborn challenge that we face.” The fire nearly doubled in size by the end of Sunday, after beginning the day at 30,000 acres, and continued growing Monday. In its most recent update, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the fire was burning more than 66,000 acres. It is only 5 percent contained.
The fire has been propelled by strong “Diablo winds,” which have reached speeds up to 93 miles per hour in some spots. The hot, dry wind, combined with bone-dry vegetation, creates a tinder box that allows the fires to spread at blistering speed.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, an earthquake hit the area early Monday morning. The 3.3 magnitude tremor did not cause any damage or injuries.
Mass evacuations have been ordered in and around Sonoma County, with 180,000 people ordered to leave their homes as the fire approaches Santa Rosa. Sonoma County public schools were ordered closed Monday and Tuesday.
“If you are under a mandatory evacuation for the #Kincadefire please do not go home,” the County of Sonoma said in a tweet. “It is still not safe to return.”
“Evacuation centers have been set up at fairgrounds, churches, and colleges,” the Sacramento Bee reports. But they reached capacity Sunday morning, forcing some evacuees to sleep in chairs and in their cars.
The Getty Fire erupts in Southern California.
Two large fires burned over the weekend near Los Angeles, with the Saddle Ridge and Tick fires engulfing around 13,000 acres. Both were largely contained by Monday morning, but strong Santa Ana winds are expected to return later in the day.
Early Monday, a new fire broke out near the Getty Center museum, causing major problems in West Los Angeles. Thousands of residents have been ordered out of their homes, including LeBron James and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The fire has resulted in the closure of dozens of schools and parts of Interstate 405, one of the nation’s busiest highways.
The Getty fire is threatening 10,000 homes and it’s already burnt several. “Do not wait. Do not get your own hoses. Leave it to the professionals … be calm, but get out,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti warned Monday.
Hundreds of firefighters are battling the Getty Fire from the ground and air. Planes were seen Monday scooping up water from the Pacific Ocean and dropping it on the blaze.
On Monday afternoon, the L.A. County Fire Department announced that a new 10-acre fire, dubbed the Oak Fire, in Calabasas. It was quickly put out.
Many smaller fires are contained.
A handful of fires that cropped up during the weekend’s strong winds have been contained, with evacuations lifted. In the East Bay city of Martinez, a 50-acre blaze in a residential neighborhood was contained Sunday evening. Parts of Interstate 80 were closed Sunday as a fire that started in Vallejo jumped the Carquinez Strait and threatened Crockett as well. Dubbed the Sky fire, the 150-acre blaze was largely contained by Sunday afternoon and evacuations were lifted. Another East Bay fire, this one in Lafayette, prompted evacuations and burned a local tennis club before it was contained.
Intentional blackouts continue.
On Saturday, PG&E purposefully cut power to 965,000 homes, or more than 2 million people, in parts of 32 counties. The utility said Sunday it’s working quickly to restore power, but threats of strong winds Tuesday have raised the possibility of more intentional outages that are expected to hit half as many customers as this weekend’s.