2020 California fire season is 25 times worse than 2019's, Gov. Newsom says

The 3 major lightning complex fires in Northern California are nearly at 800,000 acres

ByAlix Martichoux and Melanie Woodrow KGO logo
Monday, August 24, 2020
2020 fires are 25 times worse than 2019, Newsom says
Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference to give an update on the California fires and the state's COVID-19 response. He said the 2020 wildfire season is already 25 times worse than the 2019 season.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom gave an update Monday on California's dual crises: the massive wildfire complexes and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

At this time last year, Newsom said, California had seen 4,292 fires that burned 56,000 acres. So far this year, we've had 7,002 fires that have burned a whopping 1.4 million acres.

RELATED: What we know about LNU, CZU, SCU complex fires in Santa Cruz, Napa, Sonoma, San Mateo counties and beyond

About 1.2 million of those acres have burned in just the past week, the governor said.

At least 12,000 structures have been damaged or destroyed so far, he added, and seven people have lost their lives.

The three major fires burning in Northern California - the LNU, SCU and CZU Lightning Complex fires - have burned nearly 800,000 acres in the greater Bay Area.

RELATED: 4 missing, fire grows to 78,000 acres in San Mateo, Santa Cruz counties

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Newsom recently declared a statewide emergency over the hundreds of fires burning in California, which opened the door for federal aid. Over the weekend, the federal government also declared the California fires a federal disaster, which should help secure even more resources.

"We continue to battle wildfires but also battling this historic pandemic," the governor continued.

In light of the coronavirus, health screenings and assessments are being conducted before entry to evacuation centers.

On the COVID-19 front, California appears to be making continued progress. The seven-day positivity rate is at 5.7%. That number has been dropping slowly but steadily since it was stuck at around 7% for weeks in June and early July. Hospitalizations statewide have also dropped by 20% over the past two weeks.

As coronavirus numbers drop, several counties have been removed from the COVID-19 watch list, including Napa and Orange counties. Newsom said more counties could be removed from the list this week.

Counties have to be off the watch list for two weeks before they're allowed to consider reopening schools for in-person instruction.

"My personal point of view is the default should be in-person education as long as it's safe, and as long as we can guarantee the safety of not only our children, but the safety of paraprofessionals and the safety of our teachers," the governor said.

California has seen more than 660,000 coronavirus cases to date.