California Governor Gavin Newsom officially declared a statewide emergency on Sunday as a spate of wildfires grows across the state, causing massive power outages and mass evacuations.
“It is critical that people in evacuation zones heed the warnings from officials and first responders, and have the local and state resources they need as we fight these fires,” Newsom said in a press release. The governor said he has been in communication with first responders, health officials and residents living in Napa, Geyserville, and Los Angeles, California. The Kincaide Fire, roaring through much of Geyserville, and the Tick Fire, ravaging parts of Santa Clarita, have been responsible for large-scale evacuations and power outages since Thursday.
California fire and weather officials held a press conference Sunday morning to caution that the Kincaide Fire in Sonoma County, which is only 10% contained, has spread and at times worsened due to extreme weather conditions. Red flag conditions ― meaning warm temperatures, low humidity and powerful winds ― could help spread the fire, they said.
“We’re kind of at the peak of the wind event right now,” a National Weather Service official said.
Cal Fire specialist Steve Volmer added that high winds could send embers from the Kincaide Fire flying, potentially causing several miniature fires to start in neighboring areas.
“This fire, we know what it’s doing; we know where it’s going to go.” Volmer said. “Those new starts we’re going to get are going to be problematic; they’re gonna have the same effects as this fire, and the same rates of spread.”
As recently as Saturday night, winds blowing the Kincaide Fire reached 76 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
The fire had grown to over 44,000 acres by Sunday morning, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and reports said it has destroyed 79 structures in Sonoma County to date. Roughly 200,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes.
The National Weather Service said the red flag warning concerning dangerously high winds and low humidity will extend until 11 a.m. on Monday.
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