The two California wildfires prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency last week are still raging. Together, they have killed five people and destroyed more than 1,100 homes, according to multiple reports.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, aka Cal Fire, the so-called Butte Fire, spread out across Calaveras and Amador counties, burned 70,760 acres, destroyed 503 homes and killed two people between its beginning 10 days ago and Saturday morning, when it was 65 percent contained. A Cal Fire representative, Lynette Round, said the fire’s two fatalities rejected orders to evacuate their homes.
A separate blaze, the so-called Valley Fire, centered in southern Lake County, scorched 74,500 acres, destroyed 585 homes and killed three people between its start seven days ago and Saturday morning, when it was 48 percent contained, Cal Fire reported. According to the Associated Press, it is unclear whether those who perished in the Valley Fire received evacuation notices, but two of the three declined requests by friends and relatives to vacate their residences.
Thanks to a yearslong drought and unusually high temperatures, California’s firefighters have been battling blazes throughout this year. According to state records, more acres burned in California in the first four months of 2015 than in the equivalent periods of nine of the past 10 years. In the spring, experts predicted this year could become the worst year on record for wildfires in the state. That prediction appears well-founded: Last month, the state said its firefighters had battled 4,200 fires through the first seven months of the year, 1,500 more than average.
The huge uptick has sapped the energy of California’s firefighters and placed a severe strain on the state’s resources, drawing money away from its ability to fulfill other conservation and wildlife responsibilities.
A map of all the active wildfires burning in California can be found below.