200,000 people have been told to flee their homes as California braces for more dry lightning while wildfires continue to scorch the region.
FIRE crews, military planes, and National Guard troops poured into California on Sunday to join the fight against at least two dozen major wildfires burning across the state, as officials warned of more dry lightning storms approaching. Users took to social media platform Twitter to warn of the progress of the blaze.
— Evan Kirstel #RemoteWork (@EvanKirstel) August 23, 2020
Northern California was warned to brace Sunday for more lightning strikes that could intensify the hundreds of wildfires burning their way through the region that have already consumed more than one million acres.
The death toll from the fires, which began after thousands of lightning strikes last week, rose to six Sunday after authorities in Santa Cruz County found the body of a 70-year-old man in the mountains.
We love you in the winter, summer, spring and in the fall.
We love you, California. Stay safe, eh?
— Canadian Forces in 🇺🇸 (@CAFinUS) August 23, 2020
The National Weather Service, meanwhile, issued its highest fire alert, a red flag warning, from the Oregon border to the Central Coast until Monday afternoon as remnants of Hurricane Genevieve moved up the Pacific Coast. Forecasters said frequent lightning was possible with gusty, erratic winds and little to no rain.
“We could see a repeat of what we saw last week – nearly 12,000 lightning strikes,” said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in a briefing Sunday.
The American Lung Association has warned that the coronavirus pandemic has heightened the health hazards posed by the smoky air and extreme heat caused by the fires. Inhaling smoke and ash can worsen the weakened lungs of people with Covid-19, said Afif El-Hassan, a physician spokesman for the lung association.