Aug. 23 (UPI) — Wildfires in California have burned more than 1 million acres as of Sunday as firefighters battle to contain the blazes.
The National Weather Service on Sunday issued a Red Flag Warning for much of northern California and parts of the Intermountain West on Sunday afternoon to alert people of a “critical fire weather” pattern.
“Critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. Be extremely careful with open flames,” the NWS said.
The weather conditions include storm, which could spark additional blazes and accelerate the spread of the existing fires which include the second- and third-largest in California’s history.
Cal Fire spokesman Steve Kaufmann said over the past week approximately 12,000 lightning strikes have caused 585 fires in the state.
LNU Lightning Complex
Cal Fire said Sunday that the LNU Lightning Complex, the largest active blaze in the state, has burned 341,243 acres in five counties and is 17% contained.
The blaze has resulted in four deaths and four injuries in addition to destroying 845 structures and damaging 231 more.
1,704 fire personnel from 2 agencies have been deployed to respond to the blaze.
Cal Fire said it expects “significant fire growth” amid possible erratic winds and dry lightning Sunday evening through Tuesday.
“Extreme fire behavior with short- and long-range spotting are continuing to challenge firefighting efforts,” the agency said. “Fires continue to make runs in multiple directions and impacting multiple communities.”
SCU Lightning Complex
The second-largest blaze, the SCU Lightning Complex, has burned 339,968 acres in five counties and was 10% contained as of Sunday, Cal Fire said.
The blaze has destroyed five structures and resulted in four injuries.
Cal Fire officials said conditions were presenting difficulties in their efforts to combat the blaze.
“The fires continue to burn in steep in steep inaccessible terrain influenced by low relative humidity and high daytime temperatures,” they said. “Hot air temperatures developed this afternoon with southwest winds keeping things active on the Canyon Fire as winds gusted to 15 mph over the ridges from 90-95 degrees were observed with minimum humidity around 20%. High clouds began to increase across the area signaling a change as tropical moisture surges northward.”