Last month California experience what was described as a “lightning siege” with more than 10,000 strikes recorded over 72 hours. Here’s a map of the strikes across northern California:
Because of the heat and the dry foliage those strikes set off more than 350 separate fires. Dozens of those fires grew and gradually merged into major wildfires. Currently the so-called August Complex has burned nearly half a million acres and as of yesterday is the largest wildfire in the state’s history.
The August Complex Fire is a combination of 37 fires sparked by lightning in Mendocino National Forest on Aug. 17, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement. It has so far burned 471,185 acres and is 24 percent contained.
Forest Service spokesman Terry Krasko suggested that the fire may actually be bigger. He said an airplane with infrared capabilities that measure the size of a blaze was out of service Thursday.
The fire became known as the August Complex Fire about five days ago, when numerous blazes combined, Krasko said. Many smaller fires have been extinguished, he said, but larger parts of the fire, including the Doe Fire, continued to grow Thursday afternoon.
Cal Fire published this graphic showing six of the top 20 fires in the state’s history have happened this year and all six are still burning:
The 2020 fire season has been record-breaking, in not only the total amount of acres burned at just over 3 million, but also 6 of the top 20 largest wildfires in California history have occurred this year. pic.twitter.com/CmmhH5wTVX
— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) September 10, 2020
Here’s an interactive map showing where all of this is happening. Three of the biggest fires are all north of Sacramento. The August Complex is #4:
A local newspaper, the Mendocino Voice, reports that because of the severity of the situation, firefighters are now being called in from other countries:
Carlson mentioned that over the past few weeks, the August complex has brought in as many resources as possible. “But everyone is short on resources,” Carlson said. “Many fires are threatening homes and burning homes. There’s a limited number of teams and resources.”
However, during tonight’s meeting, a spokesperson said that international firefighting coordination efforts have been activated and that likely, firefighters from Canada, Mexico, and Australia will soon arrive to help fight the fires in the western U.S. However, they don’t know exactly when those firefighters will arrive or where they will be assigned to.
Because of the scale of these fires and the fact that massive fires are also burning in Oregon right now, nearly the entire west coast has been covered in a blanket of smoke:
Wildfire smoke reaches across all of California, the Oregon coastline, and well out into the Pacific, mixing with fog (the whiter clouds in the ocean). I think we're going to continue to see this smoke for a while, unfortunately. #BearFire #NorthComplexWestZone #AugustComplex pic.twitter.com/ZkeyOifLg2
— Kris Kuyper (@Weather1224) September 10, 2020
That smoke has created some very unusual lighting effects in places like San Francisco:
Scenes from around San Francisco where dark orange skies are still blanketing the city and region.
— Jessica Christian (@jachristian) September 9, 2020
Shot by drone this morning.
San Francisco bay area – the world turned orange overnight.
If the apocalypse comes how will we know? pic.twitter.com/6zbQLutHOa
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) September 10, 2020
This is 11 am in the city:
An apocalyptic downtown San Francisco, all pics around 11AM. Wildfire smoke refracting light so that what we see is this red/orange hue. Truly eerie feeling today and a reminder of how much of the state is in the midst of devastating fire. #smoke #CaliforniaFires pic.twitter.com/317lrxM1L8
— John Shrable (@JohnShrable) September 9, 2020
This person took a photo of the sun from Sacramento:
Noticeable darkening/orangening of skies over Sacramento in past hour or so. This morning it kind of just looked like a dreary January day, now getting closer (but not that close) to Bay Area orange pic.twitter.com/avHasvR1m0
— operation yumbo drop (@intensifiedzeal) September 9, 2020
And at some point, a lot of this stuff is going to settle lower in the atmosphere. The prediction for air quality in Los Angeles for the coming week looks really bad:
Uhhhh if yesterday was moderate, I am terrified of the weekend?!!!! Jesus be a freak rainstorm that covers all of California with healing water. pic.twitter.com/URY4kcp0Jm
— Lisa Lucas (@likaluca) September 11, 2020
Here in southern California where I live, the smoke isn’t as thick, so the sky isn’t orange but for the past 2-3 days the air has had a noticeable yellow tint which makes the entire outdoors look like it has been put through an Instagram filter. Ash has been collecting on all of the cars in the neighborhood. We’re really only getting a fraction of what they’re seeing up north but even that is pretty unnerving.
Update: This is crazy. A local news reporter shot this in a little town near Salem, Oregon on Tuesday.
— Christine Pitawanich (@CPitawanichKGW) September 8, 2020