Wildfires Result in State of Emergency in California | 200,000 Evacuated and 2.7-Million Without Power

Firebrains | FireFire
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Extensive winds are fanning the flames. Credit: AFP via Getty Images

A state of emergency has been declared in California as wildfires have caused almost 200,000 people to be ordered to leave their homes, with more evacuations expected over the coming days.

As ferocious winds exceeding 100-mph spread wildfires through bone-dry vegetation, millions of residents will remain without power after the state’s largest utility company cut electricity as a precaution to prevent more areas from igniting.

In a statement, state governor Gavin Newsom said officials were deploying ‘every resource available’ to respond to the wildfires. Containment had dropped to five percent as the blaze expanded to 84-square-miles. At least 94 structures had been destroyed.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, two grass fires briefly halted traffic on an Interstate bridge and came dangerously close to homes in Vallejo, while another blaze closed a stretch of the interstate through the state capital as smoke obstructed drivers. In the south, 18 structures were destroyed by a wildfire in the Santa Clarita area near Los Angeles, which was contained by 70 per cent as of last night. The biggest evacuation was in Northern California’s Sonoma County where 180,000 people were told to pack up and leave, many in the middle of the night. To prevent its power lines from sparking in the high winds and setting off more blazes, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) said yesterday that preventative shut-offs impacted 965,000 customers, reported The Metro.

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Another 100,000 lost electricity because of strong gusts, bringing the number of residents impacted by blackouts to nearly 2.7 million people. PG&E officials say they are expecting strong winds to pick up again tomorrow and have notified 500,000 households – more than 1 million people – they are likely to have their power turned off for the third time in a week.

Yesterday Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office tweeted: ‘This is the largest evacuation that any of us … can remember. Take care of each other.’ It is not yet known what caused the fires, but (PG&E) said on Thursday that a ‘broken jumper’ wire in one of its transmission towers was found near to where the inferno started.

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