New Evacuations Ordered as Two Wildfires Erupt in Northern California

Two fast-moving wildfires, having burned more than 26,000 acres in Northern California since they began on Sunday, prompted new evacuation orders for thousands of people as the year’s grueling fire season wore on.

The Zogg Fire in Shasta County and the Glass Fire in Napa County burned about 15,000 and 11,000 acres as of Monday morning, according to the state fire agency, Cal Fire. In nearby Sonoma County, where fires were burning uncontained on Sunday night, there were at least 11 evacuation zones.

On Monday morning, Cal Fire said that there was an “immediate threat to life” in some areas, and that the authorities in Napa and Sonoma had opened evacuation centers. In Napa alone, more than 5,000 people were ordered to evacuate, and 3,000 more were placed under an evacuation warning, said Janet Upton, a spokeswoman for the county.

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office also warned people to “evacuate immediately.” On Twitter on Sunday night, the office shared a video of a deputy evacuating as fires incinerated trees, embers flew into the air and smoke enveloped a roadway.

The Weather Service also forecast wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour and up to 50 miles per hour at higher elevations, raising concerns that weather conditions could fan small fires quickly into huge ones.

As a precaution, the utility company Pacific Gas and Electric said it had shut off power on Sunday in portions of the North Valley and Northern and Central Sierra regions, affecting about 65,000 customers. Power was expected to be restored by the end of the day Monday.

“Once the high winds subside Monday morning, PG&E will inspect the de-energized lines to ensure they were not damaged during the wind event, and then restore power,” the company said in a statement. “PG&E will safely restore power in stages as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring power to nearly all customers who are safe to restore within 12 daylight hours after severe weather has passed.”

More than 1.2 million acres have burned across Northern California after lightning strikes sparked hundreds of fires on Aug. 15, according to Cal Fire. Since the beginning of the year, more than 8,100 wildfires have burned more than 3.7 million acres.

The 2020 fire season has also proved disastrous for Oregon and Washington State, burning another million acres across both states, destroying hundreds of homes and, for weeks, blanketing the West Coast in some of the most unhealthy air conditions in the world.

Experts say that climate change has worsened the fires. Higher temperatures and drier conditions have made it easier for vegetation to burn, causing fires to become bigger, more intense and harder to extinguish.

Historically, fire seasons in California began around June and July and lasted into October, a spokeswoman for Cal Fire, Cheryl Buliavac, said on Monday. But seasons have been growing longer.

“The last several years with the drought and lack of rainfall, we have had a very dry vegetation which is extremely receptive to burning so we have not been having that closure that we normally would have in the early fall,” she said. “It has been a year-round fire season.”

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