Six people have been killed and at least 43 injured, including some firefighters, in massive wildfires that have burned homes and forests in Northern California and devastated its oldest state park.
With more than 500 fires burning out of control Saturday in the state with no end in sight, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on Australia and Canada to send in reinforcements for the 12,000 local firefighters trying to contain the disaster.
An area the size of Rhode Island has already burned down in northern California, Newsom said.
Hundreds of buildings have burned down in the last few days. Thousands more are in danger, the BBC reported Saturday.
Dashcam video showed terrified residents driving through the flames and heavy smoke of the Hennessey Fire in Napa County. Burning trees seemed close to falling over, the Daily Mail reported.
Many of the ancient trees at Big Basin Redwoods State Park were charred and endured extensive damage from the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in Santa Cruz that started Tuesday, CNN reported Saturday.
The “Global SuperTanker” Services LLC’s B747-400 — the world’s biggest firefighting plane — was deployed to the Walbridge Fire in Sonoma County on Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The SuperTanker lets loose 20,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in a single drop.
Some of the estimated 560 fires had doubled in size in one day, forcing 175,000 residents to evacuate, officials said Friday. The worst fires are in the mountains south and east of San Francisco.
“These fires are stretching our resources, our personnel,” Newsom said. “We simply haven’t seen anything like this in many, many years.”
The fires have been fueled by strong winds and are moving close to bigger towns like Santa Cruz where flames came within a mile of the University of California Santa Cruz campus.
Newsom has asked President Donald Trump to sign a major disaster declaration.
More than 12,000 dry lightning strikes started the fires during a historic heat wave that saw Death Valley record some of the hottest temperatures in history.
“These lightning strikes came the exact week that we were experiencing some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in human history — 130-degree temperatures in the southern part of the state of California,” Newsom said. “These fires are stretching our resources, stretching our personnel.”
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