The wildfires raging in Northern California have been blamed for seven deaths and the destruction of at least 1,200 buildings. As the state has learned over and again in years past, every death is devastating, and with every lost home or leveled neighborhood, people’s work and memories are incinerated.
What’s different this year, officials and experts said on Monday, isn’t just that we are also grappling with a pandemic. It’s the staggering scale of the many fires sprawling across California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom assured residents that “we’ve deployed every resource at our disposal” as the number of active fires grew to 625 across the vast state.
And even though a new front of lightning storms was less severe than expected, Mr. Newsom emphasized that almost 300 lightning strikes had sparked 10 new fires — every one of which could have become a new threat.
So far this year, more than 7,000 fires have chewed through 1.4 million acres, making this fire season one of the most active ever. For context, Mr. Newsom said, by this point in 2019, 4,292 fires had burned 56,000 acres across the state.
Tens of thousands of firefighters from across California and from states as far away as Kansas have been enlisted to help contain the blazes and keep them from destroying homes and businesses.