California has been punished by over 900 wildfires that have burned parts of the state. Many of the fires were ignited by intense lightning strikes that started on August 15th. The California wildfires continue to rage.
To organize the firefighting and rescue efforts, the California Office of Emergency Services (COES) names each fire.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) said 12,500 firefighters are currently battling 22 major fires in the state. Despite the heat, firefighters were able to contain two major fires in coastal Monterey County.
So far the blazes have decimated over 2 million acres. There have been 8 confirmed fire deaths including a hiker. And nearly 3,900 structures have been damaged or destroyed.
With record-breaking temperatures and the sheer number of California wildfires, the state’s electrical grid was badly strained and could lead to power outages and rolling blackouts.
San Diego-The “Valley Fire”
In eastern San Diego County, the “Valley Fire” broke out on Saturday afternoon. Fire officials warned the blaze was burning at a “dangerous rate of speed.”
By Sunday morning it had destroyed at least 10 structures and turned almost 7 square miles into ashes. The remote community of Alpine within the Cleveland National Forest had to be evacuated.
At least two of the lost structures were homes. And as of Monday the fire is still not entirely contained.
Yucaipa- “Cal Fire”
In Southern California, crews scrambled to put out several fires that had just started. The largest was a fire in the foothills of Yucaipa. The “Cal Fire” raged just East of Los Angeles and prompted evacuation orders for portions of the city. Yucaipa has a population of 54,000. An evacuation order was also given to several nearby mountain communities.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, said the fire scorched at least 4.2 square miles of brush and trees.
The blaze was 5% contained as of Sunday morning.
Sierra National Forest rescues- “Creek Fire”
AP reports that on Saturday, September 5th there were over 200 rescues in California’s Sierra National Forest.
The Creek Fire began on Friday. By Saturday afternoon, it became widespread and crossed the San Joaquin River. When the blaze cut off the only road into the Mammoth Pool Campground, evacuations began.
Governor Gavin Newsom deployed the California National Guard to help contain the central California wildfires and airlift evacuees to safety on military Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters. The rescues took place on Saturday night until Sunday morning.
The Creek Fire spread quickly throughout the popular camping area, leaving people stranded.
The Creek Fire forced the closure of a 915-megawatt hydropower station in Madera County.
At least 2,000 structures were threatened in the area about 290 miles north of Los Angeles. At least two people are hospitalized with severe injuries. At least 10 people suffered from more moderate injuries.
No one was able to contain the fire which charred more than 71 square miles of trees, and acreage in the Sierra National Forest area. Within the National Forest area temperatures were averaging over 100 degrees.
The Creek Fire forced the closure of a 915-megawatt hydropower station in Madera County. And a wildfire damaged Southern California transmission lines that were carrying hundreds of additional kilowatts.
Problems in the power grid into triple digits
The triple-digit temperatures are breaking records, and the heatwave continued to engulf most of California on Labor Day.
Temperatures in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles reached record temperatures two days in a row with a high of 121 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday.
The exceptionally high temperatures were driving the highest power use of the year and transmission losses due to wildfires are an additional problem.
Eric Schmitt of the California Independent System Operator that manages the state’s power grid said up to 3 million customers are at risk of losing power.
Cal-ISO was projecting a 4,000-megawatt shortfall and urged people to conserve electricity by not using appliances and keeping air conditioners at 78 degrees or above.
Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility, warned customers that it may have to cut the power back starting Tuesday. High winds are anticipated and the excessive heat could create an even greater fire hazard.
Despite the heat, firefighters were able to contain two major fires at the Monterey County coast.
With record-breaking temperatures and the sheer number of fires, the state’s electrical grid was badly strained and could lead to power outages and rolling blackouts.
Late Monday, the U.S. Forest Service announced on twitter, eight national forests are closing due to the dangerous conditions and the threat of continuing California wildfires.
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