Wildfires rage in Northern California

By Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0424 GMT (1224 HKT) August 20, 2020
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11:38 a.m. ET, August 19, 2020

There are 3 zones of wildfires raging in Northern California

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Horses stand in an enclosure Tuesday as the LNU Complex fires tear through the Spanish Flat community in unincorporated Napa County.
Horses stand in an enclosure Tuesday as the LNU Complex fires tear through the Spanish Flat community in unincorporated Napa County.

At least 33 wildfires are currently burning more than 141,000 acres in Northern California.

The major fires are broken up into three zones: 

  • LNU Lightning Complex includes fires in Napa, Sonoma, and Solano Counties. There are eight large fires burning more than 46,000 acres. This includes the city of Vacaville, where evacuations are ongoing.
  • SCU Lightning Complex is raging in Santa Clara County. There are 20 separate fires burning 85,000 acres. More than 1,400 structures are threatened by flames, and at least two first responders have been injured in this incident
  • CZU August Lightning Complex is in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, and is composed of five large fires burning about 10,000 acres. Nearly 600 personnel and seven helicopters have been dispatched, and three first responders have been hurt fighting these fires.
11:24 a.m. ET, August 19, 2020

The area around Vacaville is under a red flag warning. Here's what that means.

A red flag warning is in place in parts of Northern California, including the areas around Vacaville, which has issued some evacuations because of a nearby wildfire.

About red flag warnings: This is a warning the National Weather Service issues when conditions are perfect for wildfires to start and to spread, for example, during hot, dry, windy weather.

"Red flag warning for very low humidity and gusty wind today into Thursday morning....very low humidity combined with gusty northwest to west wind will continue critical fire weather conditions today into Thursday morning," the service said today.

10:39 a.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Almost 45 million people across the West are under heat warnings and advisories today

From CNN's Jason Hanna, Christina Maxouris and Dan Simon

The wildfires come as California battles what some experts are calling historic weather conditions.

Nearly 45 million people across the West are under an excessive heat warning or heat advisory Wednesday. High temperatures, gusty winds and low humidity are forecast, conditions that will likely contribute to a significant spread of both new and existing wildfires.

California weather officials said at least seven temperature records were broken. Here's a look at some of the records:

  • Burbank beat its previous 1986 record, hitting 109 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday
  • Paso Robles beat a more than 50-year record with a staggering 111 degrees on Tuesday.
  • Camarillo, Long Beach and Woodland Hills were also included in the record-breaking areas.

In a Twitter warning, the National Weather Service said that "summer is hot, but this is different."

10:23 a.m. ET, August 19, 2020

There are dozens of fires burning across California

From CNN's Jason Hanna, Christina Maxouris and Dan Simon

A mobile home and car burn Tuesday at Spanish Flat Mobile Villa as the LNU Complex fires tear through unincorporated Napa County, California.
A mobile home and car burn Tuesday at Spanish Flat Mobile Villa as the LNU Complex fires tear through unincorporated Napa County, California.

The fire that prompted some residents in Vacaville to evacuate is among dozens of blazes burning in parts of the state. They come during a brutal heat wave and power outages — both intentional and unintentional — as the power grid struggles to keep up with demand.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency Tuesday to deploy resources to "combat fires burning across the state which have been exacerbated by the effects of the historic West Coast heat wave and sustained high winds."

The Vacaville-area fire is part of the LNU Lightning Complex fires — a series of wildfires that started Monday and Tuesday and have burned more than 32,000 acres in the northern Bay Area counties of Napa, Sonoma and Solano, state and county officials said.

Here's what we know about some of the other fires in California:

  • In Monterey County, well south of San Jose, evacuations were issued for the Carmel Fire, burning southeast of Carmel Valley Village Tuesday, CNN affiliate KSBW reported. The Carmel Fire has burned about 1,200 acres and had no containment as of Tuesday night, Cal Fire reported.
  • Late Tuesday, the Monterey County Sheriff's Office announced a mandatory evacuation due to another fire, the River Fire. The River Fire was 7% contained Tuesday night, according to Cal Fire. Both of the fires are in Monterey County, about 90 miles from San Jose, the department said.
9:48 a.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Homes have burned around Vacaville, but we're not sure how many

Flames from the LNU Lightning Complex Fire are forced some Vacaville, California, residents to flee from their homes in the wee early of the morning.

An exact number of evacuees could not be provided at this time as the emergency process is ongoing, Solano Sheriff spokesperson Le’Ron Cummings told CNN.

Homes have burned in the fire, Cummings said, but it is unclear how many. 

About the fire: The LNU Lightning Complex is a force of at least seven separate fires affecting areas of Solano, Sonoma and Napa Counties. More than 32,000 acres have burned, according to Cal Fire.

9:34 a.m. ET, August 19, 2020

What it's like to evacuate in the middle of the night because of fire

From CNN's Alisha Ebrahimji

Caroline Newell
Caroline Newell

Caroline Newell left her home in Winters, California, around midnight and drove to her parents’ home 20 minutes away in Fairfield. She said she started packing her things when thick smoke started inching closer to her home and at that time, evacuation orders or warnings hadn’t even been put out in her area.

Newell said she “got caught off guard by how fast it got close” to her. She was able to grab her cat but had to leave some of her chickens behind. Newell said she left the coop open hoping they’d run out on their own.

“This is the third time I've evacuated this summer,” Newell said. “Both previous times firecrews were out in force and got the flames under control quickly. This time around there seemed to be less resources available just due to how many fires are burning right now. This fire seems to be really fast and really intense with not enough resources to fight back.”

She took photos as she fled her home. Here's a look at the scene:

 

9:26 a.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Some people ordered to evacuate as wildfires move closer to residential areas

From CNN’s Joe Sutton and Alex Meeks 

Some residents in the city of Vacaville, California, were asked to evacuate their homes this morning as a wildfire is raging in the area.

The Vacaville Fire Protection District tweeted that evacuations are in effect for "all of Pleasants Valley Rd and connecting streets/roads."

"There are numerous locations where people are trying to get out and we're working our way up to them," the Solano County Sheriff dispatch told CNN.  

Here's the latest from the Solano County Office of Emergency Services:

“An EVACUATION ORDER has been issued for all residents south of Gates Canyon Road to Hwy 80 and Pleasants Valley Road west to Blue Ridge Road. An evacuation order means there is immediate threat to life. This is a lawful order to leave now. The area is lawfully closed to public access. An EVACUATION ORDER has been issued for all residents north of Gates Canyon Road to Quail Canyon Road and Pleasants Valley Road to Blue Ridge Road due to wildfire. An evacuation order means there is immediate threat to life…”

The wildfire impacting the county is called the LNU Lightning Complex Fire, the Solano County Office of Emergency Services said in a post on Facebook. It's one of dozens of fires burning across California.

Vacaville is located in Solano County in Northern California. The city has a population of approximately 100,000 people and is located between San Francisco and Sacramento. 

CNN is on the ground in Vacaville: