In just a week, wildfires burn 1 million acres in California

In just a week, wildfires burn 1 million acres in California

By DAISY NGUYEN and ADAM BEAMtoday1 of 10Firefighter Jeremy Damon of the Nevada Yuba Placer Fire Dept. monitors a controlled burn in the backyard of a home in front of the advancing CZU August Lightning Complex Fire Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Boulder Creek, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Weary firefighters in California raced Saturday to slow the spread of wildfires that burned nearly one million acres statewide in a week and destroyed hundreds of homes ahead an expected weather change that could bring more lightning strikes like the ones that sparked many of the blazes.

Responding to the emergency, President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration to provide federal assistance. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement that the declaration will also help people in counties affected by the fires with crisis counseling, housing and other social services.ADVERTISEMENT

Two clusters of wildfires in the San Francisco Bay Area grew to become the second- and third-largest wildfires in recent state history by size. Light winds and cooler and more humid nighttime weather helped fire crews make progress on those fires and a third group of fires south of San Francisco ahead of the forecast of warm, dry weather, erratic wind gusts and lightning, state fire officials said.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning of high fire danger across the Bay Area and along the Central Coast, beginning from Sunday morning to Monday afternoon.

“The worst is not behind us. We are in a battle rhythm,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) Chief Thom Porter tweeted.

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Since thousands of lightning strikes began on Aug. 15, the state reported 585 wildfires that have burned nearly a million acres, or 1,562 square miles (4,046 square kilometers), according to Cal Fire.

Many were small and remote. The bulk of damage was from three fire “complexes” that were ravaging forest and rural areas in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. They have burned 1,045 square miles (2,700 square kilometers). The fires have killed five people, torched nearly 700 homes and other structures and forced tens of thousands from their houses.

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