California’s Devastating Wildfires In Photos

Two Disasters Are Exponentially Worse Than One

Eleven thousand lightning strikes, 370 wildfires, a pandemic, a heat wave, and rolling blackouts—California has endured a lot this week. Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned, and tens of thousands of people have had to evacuate. The largest of the blazes—the LNU Lightning Complex fires, which alone span Napa, Sonoma, Solano, and Lake Counties—is only 7 percent contained.

One disaster is bad. Two are worse, but the damage doesn’t just double. This confluence of circumstances can seem like a series of independent misfortunes, when in fact it is a tangle of loose contingencies. A single high-pressure system rolling in from the Southwest initiated the heat wave and the thunderstorms, which together created the conditions for the fires, which will likely both exacerbate and be exacerbated by the pandemic, which has diminished firefighting resources and, along with the heat wave, contributed to the blackouts by keeping people at home with their air-conditioning on full blast…


California’s Devastating Wildfires In Photos

car burning
A car burns while parked at a residence in the Vacaville fires Wednesday. AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

California struggles to contain the blazes ripping through the state during a blistering, weeks-long heatwave and unprecedented series of lightning strikes.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection data shows 5,356 wildfires have been tracked between early January and mid-August—that’s a startling 60% more than 2019 and 40% higher than the five-year average.

The blazes have displaced more than 60,000 people and forced them to flee as the fires tore through almost 700,000 acres throughout California…

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