Healdsburg, California — California is under a historic fire siege with more lightning expected Sunday night. Nearly 1.3 million acres have been charred as more than 14,000 exhausted firefighters battle nonstop flames. The blazes are considered the Golden State’s second and third largest in its history.
In California’s Wine Country, the LNU Lightning Complex fire is relentless. So far the fire has burned more than 500 square miles — an area 11 times the size of San Francisco — and has destroyed nearly 900 structures and threatens 30,000 more.
A Red Flag warning is in place for the entire Bay Area where the SCU Lightning Complex fire is 340,000 acres and growing. Five counties are under new evacuations.
The CZU Lightning Complex fire, 100 miles south, is decimating the Big Basin Redwoods. The protected trees — some 2,500 years old — were nearly wiped out by loggers in the 1800s. Now human caused climate change has damaged or destroyed many of these ancient giants.
A heat wave helped fuel a ferocious spate of fires, costing people their homes and so much more.
From space, satellite images show the fires’ smoke traveling thousands of miles. Dennis Kirby is part of one of the many fire crews working around the clock.
“Less people, less resources … You’re stretched pretty thin,” he told CBS News.
Firefighters typically work 24 hour shifts, but some are working three to four days straight. One crew was seen cutting back dry vegetation. Fire teams from 10 different states and two countries, including Australia, are being flown in for back up.
At least five people have died and tens of thousands were evacuated from the area. On Friday night, fast-moving flames trapped two firefighters, who had to be airlifted to safety.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said Saturday that the White House approved a major disaster declaration for the state.