Firefighters in California were battling eight large wildfires across the state Monday amid hot and dry conditions that have forced residents in some areas to flee as homes are destroyed.
“Conditions today continue to be hot and dry across California,” said a statement from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on its social media accounts. “Starting this afternoon through Wednesday fire danger will be heightened in the mountains and desert foothills of Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties.”
Approximately 1,400 residents fled the community of Lower Lake, where more than 100 structures were destroyed, including the post office, a winery and other businesses, the Associated Press reported. The town is approximately 90 miles north of San Francisco. The Clayton fire is only five percent contained and 1,500 structures remain threatened. Firefighters are battling extreme heat and dry brush conditions.
“You can’t imagine what took place,” Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said late on Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported. “There was extreme fire behavior and winds that pushed it across the road into structure after structure after structure. We had airplanes dropping retardant, helicopters dropping thousands of gallons of water — trying to get ahead of this.”
The Lake County fire is one of several burning across the state. The Chimney fire in San Luis Obispo County has burned 4,300 acres and is 10 percent contained. The fire is threatening 150 structures.
The major Soberanes fire in Monterey County that was started by an illegal campfire has destroyed 74,604 acres and burned 68 structures including 57 homes. The fire is now 60 percent contained. Robert Oliver Reagan III was identified as the bulldozer contractor who was killed while responding to the fire in July.
Fires in Santa Clara county, Shasta county and Inyo county have been fully contained. California is experiencing its fifth year of drought increasing the risks of wildfires in the summer months.