Newsom said the state had seen 10,849 lightning strikes in past 72 hours are that there were 367 known fires burning statewide. “I say ‘known fires,'” said Newsom, “because they may be more in more remote parts of the state. The prospect of that number going up is very real.”
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CA has experienced 10,849 lightning strikes in the last 72 hours and WORLD RECORD heat temperatures.
We’re currently battling 367 known fires.
Grateful for our firefighters, first responders, and everyone on the frontlines protecting Californians during this time.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 19, 2020
The state as seen 6,754 fires since the beginning of 2020. “We battled just over 4,000 fires last year” by this time, said Newsom. That means the number of fires identified thus far is up more than 40 percent, year-over-year.
There are 23 “complex fires” in the state, according to Newsom. He described complex fires as major those that encompass “an area that has multiple fires within a proximate geographic area.” It’s easy to see how many small fires could afflict a given area, given the state’s 10,000-plus lightning strikes in the past three days.
The so-called “CZU complex fire” in Santa Cruz, among the state’s worst, actually is made up of 22 individual blazes.
— CAL FIRE CZU (@CALFIRECZU) August 19, 2020
“We’re putting everything we have on these fires,” said the governor. “They’re stretched all across the state of California.”
The day before, Newsom had declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard to help battle the multiple disasters hitting the state.
It’s not just the fires and a pandemic but the oppressive heat.
Newsom called for a Flex Alert beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday as the power system again was pushed to its limit by record-breaking temperatures. He noted the 130-degree temperature measured in Death Valley on Saturday could well turn out to be the highest ever recorded on Earth.
“What has occurred over the last 72 hours has certainly stretched the resources of the state,” observed Newsom. “That said, we are in a better place preparedness-wise” than before.
The governor praised the state’s “world-class firefighting force. World-class equipment that we have made major investments in over the past few years,” including the hiring of more than 800 new seasonal firefighters and the addition of Black Hawk helicopters, which he announced in the spring.
Watch Newsom’s news conference below.