California fires: Horrific photos reveal raging wildfires terrorising state
California was in a state of emergency on Wednesday as dozens of fast-moving fires spread across the north and centre of the state, threatening homes and causing the evacuation of thousands of people.
Many of the blazes were started by lightning strikes during an extreme heatwave in the state.
About 20 fires broke out in the area of Vacaville, north of San Francisco, emergency services said, and were being collectively called the LNU Lightning Complex Fire after the intense lightning storm that sparked the blazes.
The fire had torched more than 12,000ha near the wine country of Napa and Sonoma by Wednesday morning, media reports said.
Firefighters said that in total, fires across the state had torched some 48,000ha.
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency late on Tuesday to mobilise overstretched resources against “fires burning across the state which have been exacerbated by the effects of the historic West Coast heatwave and sustained high winds”.
Some residents of Vacaville fled their homes dressed only in nightclothes as the walls of fire surged across roadways, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, adding that firefighters were evacuating people suffering from burns.
Gas lines exploded at one house as the flames moved in, the paper said. Fire officials said the blaze was not contained and threatened some 1900 structures in the area.
In the past week, California’s Death Valley has been experiencing historic high temperatures, with the mercury rising as high as 54.4C.
Nearly 45 million people across the west of the US were under an excessive heat warning or heat advisory on Wednesday.
The heatwave has put a massive strain on the state’s power network, with blackouts leaving around 30,000 people without electricity according to the site Power outage.us.
Last week, grass fires near Lakes Hughes, just north of Los Angeles, burned 4000ha and prompted the evacuation of 500 homes.
Originally published as Horrific photos show California on fire