Hundreds of fires were started by lightning, Cal Fire spokesman Steve Kaufmann said. There were approximately 12,000 lightning strikes that started 585 fires in the state over the past week. Approximately 950,000 acres in the state are burning with more than 13,000 firefighters working the fires, he said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday the state has received a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration due to the fires burning in the Northern part of the state. This means President Donald Trump released federal aid to supplement recovery efforts in areas affected by the wildfires.
Those areas include Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties, according to a White House statement.
Some firefighters are working 24-hour shifts
One of the reasons for a resource shortage: Fewer prison inmates than usual are helping, because of early releases during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Firefighters are worried about forecasts that say dry thunderstorms — featuring lightning but little rain — could spark more fires and spread existing ones Sunday through Tuesday.
Fires cause more death and destruction than all 2019
California wildfires have caused more deaths and destruction so far this year than in all of 2019. Last year, wildfires charred a total of 260,000 acres and killed three people, according to Cal Fire.
The National Weather Service has issued air quality alerts for parts of at least six states: California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico. These alerts warn of moderate to heavy smoke, and advise people — especially those with heart disease or respiratory illnesses — to consider staying indoors and limiting outdoor activity.
Nearly 41,000 residents in Sonoma County were under evacuation warnings or orders Saturday, officials said.
CNN’s Jason Hanna and Paul Vercammen contributed to this report.