CALIFORNIA—November 4, 2019—A new wildfire, the Maria fire, ignited late Thursday in Ventura County and rapidly spread to more than 8,000 acres overnight. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for 7,500 people as the fire threatened 1,800 structures, according to the Los Angeles Times. As of Saturday, the Maria fire was just 20% contained, but firefighters made significant progress, reaching 70% containment by Sunday evening, according to the Los Angeles Times. The fire burned more than 9,000 acres and destroyed two structures, but all evacuation orders have been lifted.

After dangerous high-wind events last week, firefighters are taking advantage of calmer, cooler weather to contain the fires. Across the state, most active fires are more than 70% contained, according to NPR. The Kincade fire in northern California is the largest of these having burned more than 77,000 acres. The Los Angeles Times reports the fire is now at 78% containment, but not before it injured four first responders and destroyed 370 structures.

The Los Angeles Times also reports the Getty fire in Los Angeles is now fully contained and evacuation orders in the area have been lifted. This blaze destroyed at least 10 homes, damaged 15 more, and injured two firefighters. Most of the remaining active fires in southern California are under control, reaching at least 95% containment, according to NPR.

Millions of people were without power over the course of last week as major utility companies shut down power in order to help prevent the start or spread of wildfires. According to the Los Angeles Times, Pacific Gas & Electric has now restored power to 99% of its customers in northern California as the winds have calmed. Although the current fires are largely contained, the fire risk remains high for southern California where warm, dry weather is expected for the coming week and gusty Santa Ana winds are forecast to return by the weekend.


Fires Burn Across California

Thousands of homes and residents face wildfire threats as sixteen blazes, including the Kinkaid and Getty fires, burn across the state.

Kinkaid and Getty fires

Satellite image of Kinkaid fire burning in Sonoma County on October 28, 2019. Image courtesy of NASA.

CALIFORNIA—October 29, 2019—California firefighters are battling multiple blazes across the state, including the Kinkaid and Getty fires, as homes are threatened, hundreds of thousands of people are under evacuation orders, and more than half a million face preventative power outages, according to CNN. Strong winds over the weekend contributed to the spread of the fires. Following a brief period of calm on Monday, the Santa Ana winds are expected to pick up Tuesday night into Wednesday, bringing gusts of 60-80 mph. Red flag warnings, meaning conditions are at their most dangerous for fires, have been issued throughout the state, including the cities of Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

The largest active wildfire is the Kinkaid fire, which has been raging in northern California since October 23 and injured at least two firefighters. At just 15% containment, the fire has burned more than 75,000 acres in the wine-producing region of Sonoma County. It destroyed more than 100 structures so far and damaged at least 20 more. According to The Washington Post, the historic Soda Rock Winery was among the properties destroyed. Up to 186,000 people have been under evacuation orders from the Kinkaid fire, which is not expected to be contained until November 7.

In southern California, the Getty fire has burned 600 acres in Los Angeles County where more than 20,000 people are under evacuation orders and at least 10,000 homes are in danger. With the fire only 5% contained and an extreme Santa Ana wind event predicted for this evening, residents and firefighters are facing a dangerous situation. According to CNN, at least 16 Los Angeles schools were closed Tuesday due to the fire threat.

In addition to the Kinkaid and Getty fires, CNN reports another 14 smaller fires are burning around the state, including the Tick fire north of Los Angeles, which is about 82% contained but not before burning 4,600 acres. Twenty-two structure were destroyed and 27 others were damaged in the Tick fire, according to NBC News. The multiple, widespread fires are spreading resources and first responders thin.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has already been using rolling blackouts to reduce the chances that downed power equipment will start fires. Over the weekend, strong winds prompted the company to shut off power to nearly a million customers, according to NBC News. Facing another forecast of high winds and dry air, CNN reports that PG&E plans to cut power to 596,000 customers in central and northern California on Tuesday. Additionally, the company is considering cutting power to another 205,000 customers in southern California while Southern California Edison may cut power for 300,000 customers, according to NBC News. These shut-offs correlate to millions of people without power until the worst of the fire threat passes.