California fires burn 771,000 acres, larger than Rhode Island, CAL FIRE says

Gov. Newsom said "monsoon type weather conditions" could bring more lightning strikes to California this weekend.

Alix Martichoux Image
ByAlix Martichoux KGO logo
Friday, August 21, 2020
Gov. Newsom, CAL FIRE give update on California wildfires
Governor Newsom and CAL FIRE officials gave an update on the massive wildfires burning in the Bay Area around the state.

CALISTOGA, Calif. (KGO) -- California wildfires have burned 771,000 acres since Aug. 15, said CAL FIRE officials and Gov. Gavin Newsom in a press conference Friday. That's larger than the size of Rhode Island.

CAL FIRE spokesperon Jeremy Rahn said more than 12,000 lightning strikes have sparked 560 wildfires in California over the past several days, most of which are contained.

BAY AREA FIRES: LNU Lightning Complex fires grow to 219,000 acres

Fire Chief Chris Waters said at the moment, the Walbridge Fire in Sonoma County, part of the LNU Lightning Complex, is moving toward Guerneville.

In Western Sonoma County, the Myers Fire has stopped moving and crews are looking at containment soon, Waters said.

The Hennessey Fire has three branches. The southern branch in Yolo and Solano counties has slowed down quite a bit. Active spread on the west side has also been contained. The northern part, from Lake Hennessey to Highway 116, is the area of biggest concern Friday.

Some firefighters battling the LNU blaze have lost homes in the fires, said Gov. Newsom.

LATEST: Here's what you need to know about all the fires burning in the Bay Area

"When we talk about heroes, that's what we're talking about," he said.

This weekend's weather forecast is adding a layer of complication to the firefight, Newsom added, as "monsoon type weather conditions" could bring more lightning strikes to California.

Fire crews are stretched thin by the multiple fire; 96% of wildfire engines are committed throughout the state.

Newsom recently declared a statewide emergency over the 367 fires burning in California, which opens the door for federal aid. He said the state was working with the federal government to declare a federal disaster, which would help secure even more resoures.

The three major complexes - LNU, SCU and CZU - burning in all but one Bay Area county have torched a collective 500,000 acres so far.

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For the latest on the fire sizes, containment progress and evacuation areas, visit this page.