By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
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The largest of the fires, the LNU Lightning Complex, grew over the weekend to become the second-biggest wildfire in California’s recorded history, the Sacramento Bee said Tuesday, citing Cal Fire records. The wildfire increased a few thousand more acres to just over 350,000 — about 547 square miles — by Monday morning.
The LNU Complex is burning in parts of Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Solano and Yolo counties. A Cal Fire incident report said as of Monday, 351,817 acres have burned and the fire was 25% contained.
More than 14,000 Firefighters Are Battling 17 Major Fire Complexes
Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated, with nearly 700 homes damaged. More than 14,000 firefighters are battling 17 major fire complexes, many of which surround San Francisco on three sides, the Associated Press reported. All of the fires — which have been burning for a week or more — were caused by lightning strikes.
Newsweek said six people have died so far. The latest fatality was a 70-year-old man whose body was recovered in Santa Cruz County in the area heavily damaged by the CZU Lightning Complex fire. That fire has consumed 78,684 acres and was only 13 percent contained as of Monday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said that this week “will be critical” in stemming the fires. “We are dealing with different climate conditions that are precipitating in fires the likes of which we haven’t seen in modern recorded history,” he told the AP.
Officials told a Monday evening news conference that there has been some progress against a huge fire in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties due to rain on Sunday evening and calmer weather on Monday.
“With the clear air, we were able to fly a lot more aircraft,” Mark Brunton, operations chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said. According to the AP, helicopters dropped 200,000 gallons of water on the blaze. Brunton called it “the best day yet.”
However, officials said the danger was far from over. “It is highly dangerous in there still,” Cal Fire deputy fire chief Jonathan Cox said, referring to the wildfire north of Santa Cruz. He warned drivers of old wooden bridges that have failed and others that may not appear to have failed.