Guwahati: In a huge loss for economy and environment, dozens of lightning-sparked California wildfires grew rapidly in the US on Thursday. This has forced tens of thousands of people to be evacuated from their homes in the San Francisco bay area of the US.
According to recent reports, the wildfires have claimed at least five lives till now. The state of California has been struck by its worst lightning storms in nearly two decades. Just this week around 11,000 strikes ignited over 370 fires and this has stretched the fire fighting resources to its limit.
In the North Bay’s wine country at least nine fires raced through the hills and its mountains. This stretched to about 56km (35 miles) southwest of Sacramento and destroyed more than 105 homes including various other structures.
Since Wednesday, these fires together doubled to a size of about 1,31,000 acres transforming into a “megafire.” This is 10 times larger than New York’s Manhattan Island across Napa, Solano, Yolo, and two other countries. These types of wildfires are collectively known as LNU Complex Fire and they sent wind-driven flames racing 120 feet a minute across the grassland. These, on the other hand, were parched by the record-breaking, triple-digit heat according to fire authority Cal Fire.
Additionally, on Wednesday morning a Vacaville PG&E utility worker passed away all while helping first responders. Four more civilians were injured as stated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesperson. Meanwhile, in central California, a firefighting helicopter crashed in Fresno County. This incident also happened on Wednesday and contract pilot Mike Fournier lost his life.
Moreover, a cluster of lightning-strike fires doubled in size to 40,000 acres in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. These fires injured three first responders and forced 22,000 people to evacuate and destroyed 20 structures. Additionally, yet another group of about 20 fires also called the SCU Lightning Complex reached around 1,40,000 acres on Thursday some 20 miles east of Palo Alto. These span across four counties and injured the first two responders.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, California has warmed 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit. These higher temperatures are blamed for more intense and longer fire seasons. In the last 15 years alone eight of its 10 largest wildfires were caused due to the temperature change.