Wildfires have been scorching parts of California, Washington, and Alaska this summer. Over the weekend, two more huge blazes ignited outside Sacramento and have already consumed thousands of acres of forestlands, as well as nearly 1,000 homes and business. The fires spread so quickly that many residents didn’t have time to gather their belongings before evacuating. The severity of the damage has spurred California Governor Jerry Brown to declare of state of emergency, as over 100,000 acres continue to burn.
The Valley Fire in Lake County, about 115 miles west of Sacramento, started as a 50-acre fire and grew so rapidly that 50,000 acres were burning by Sunday afternoon. Four firefighters were injured in that blaze, suffering second-degree burns as they attempted to fight the fire alongside 1,000 other emergency personnel. This video, taken by a local resident, shows what it was like to drive through a wooded area, where many cabin homes were completely destroyed by the fire. Approximately 70 miles northwest of Sacramento, the Butte Fire has destroyed at least 85 residences and 50 outbuildings and threatens 6,150 homes. That fire is estimated to span 65,000 acres at this time.
Both fires forced thousands from their homes over the weekend as state officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for multiple communities in the area. Because the fires were spreading so quickly, some evacuees were unable to collect their personal effects before their homes were completely destroyed by the flames. The governor’s emergency declaration will make it easier for people to replace important documents, like birth certificates, but that’s a small comfort for those have lost everything.
A map of wildfires shows how the threats are affecting the state, spanning from the northern border south to Los Angeles. The severity of the fires is the biggest problem. Due to the years-long drought, forestlands are chock full of dry tinder, fueling the fires and lending to their speed. As a new week begins, the fires continue to burn, and Cal Fire reports there are about 3,300 firefighters are on the scene, while another 100 officers and deputies from 23 different agencies reached out to provide support.
Images via Andrew Seng/Sacramento Bee