The wildfires sparked just over a week ago by nearly 12,000 lightning strikes continue to burn today across much of Northern California, with the blaze burning in wine country now ranked as the second largest in state history. As of Monday morning, over 1.1 million acres across the state have been burned, officials say, and at least seven people have died in the fires throughout California.
The Bay Area’s most significant blazes are currently known as the LNU Lightning Complex and the SCU Lightning Complex. According to Cal Fire, the LNU Lightning Complex fire — which cover Sonoma, Lake, Napa, Yolo and Solano counties — is the second largest fire the state has ever seen, and has currently consumed 350,030 acres. Five people are confirmed dead in the blaze, KCRA reports, 871 structures (both businesses and residences) have been destroyed, and an additional 234 others have been damaged.
#LNULightningComplex - Incident Update - 08.24.2020 7am (1 of 3)#CALFIRE#CALFIRELNU pic.twitter.com/9JR67TtYzC— CAL FIRE LNU (@CALFIRELNU) August 24, 2020
Many wineries, restaurants, and businesses in the area, which includes cities like Healdsburg, Guerneville and Vacaville, are currently closed, and tens of thousands have evacuated the area, bounced from hotel to hotel in search of shelter. The fires also halted the 2020 Sonoma County grape harvest, the SF Chronicle reports, as vineyards that escaped the flames are still shut down by power outages, shuttered roads, and air conditions that make working outside for any length of time extremely dangerous.
Many farms in the area were in the fire’s path, including many farms in Vacaville’s Pleasants Valley, the Chron reports. The produce that survived, from wine grapes to other fruits and vegetables, may end up unusable due to “smoke taint,” SFist reports, an unpleasant smoky flavor that remains in plant matter after a blaze. As of publication time, CalFire reports that the LNU Lightning Complex fire is 22 percent contained.
Meanwhile, the SCU Lightning Complex burns to the east and south of San Francisco, in Stanislaus, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Joaquin counties. It’s currently the third largest fire the state has ever seen, Cal Fire says, with two injured, 347,196 acres consumed, and 12 structures (residences and businesses) destroyed. 20,065 are threatened.
#SCULightningComplex | Incident Update | 8/24/20 7 AM pic.twitter.com/Gv8HWzTRnh— CAL FIRE SCU (@calfireSCU) August 24, 2020
USA Today reports that “officials surveying maps at command centers are astonished by the sheer size” of the two fires, with Cal Fire spokesman Brice Bennett saying that “You could overlay half of one of these fires and it covers the entire city of San Francisco.”
Per a press release from the White House, President Donald J. Trump has “declared that a major disaster exists in the State of California,” releasing Federal funding to assist residents of Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties. According to According to CNN, this round of fires has already caused more death and destruction than the state saw in all of 2019.