FRESNO, Calif. -- More than 5,000 thousand firefighters are on the front lines across California battling fires in a season off to a scorching start.
Hazy skies and ashen earth cover the landscape near Avenal in Kings County, where fields continue to burn for the second day. It's one of 14 major wildfires Cal Fire is trying to attack.
"It's a grass and brush combination, so getting crews in there is very difficult," Stacey Nolan with the department said.
More than 900 firefighters are stationed along the Monterey County line where the fire continues to grow in size. It's only July and, so far, the total number of acres burned statewide is double this time last year.
"We are getting fires at all hours of the day and night," firefighter Mike Marcucci said. "Right now, we're stretched pretty thin."
Many of these fires are located in other counties, but you can see the impact on the Valley floors where all the ash buildup is causing dangerous air quality conditions.
"So, we've superseded about 700 fires, and they are just handing it one fire at a time," Nolan explained.
Several local crews have also been sent to other cities like Santa Maria where the Alamo Fire is threatening more than 100 structures and prompting mandatory evacuations.
"It's a fraction of a second, you have everything and then it's gone," resident Leno Delorenzi said.
So far, the fire near Avenal is only burning on private property and hasn't shut down any roads. But firefighters say given the number of fires that have broken out here this year, neighbors should also remain prepared.
Firefighters spread thin across California as crews battle massive wildfires