KEY POINTS

  • The emergency was declared to ensure the availability of vital resources to battle the wildfires
  • There were more than 30 fires burning across the state
  • Extreme heat conditions in the state complicated efforts to contain the fires 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday declared a state of emergency as several wildfires continued to burn across the state amid extreme heat conditions.

He said the decision was taken to ensure the availability of vital resources to battle the fires, which has been “exacerbated by the effects of the historic West Coast heatwave & sustained high winds."

There were more than 30 fires burning across the state, many of them in Northern California, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The wildfires engulfed over 204,481 acres of land so far and damaged about 78 structures and prompted mandatory evacuations in several places. The Loyalton Fire in Tahoe National Forest, which was the largest fire reported, burned 44,147 acres of land before it was fully contained. The Apple Fire, the second largest in the state, engulfed over 33,424 acres.

"We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions," Gov. Newsom said in a release.

"On August 14, 2020, an Extreme Heat Event struck California and surrounding Western states, causing record-breaking temperatures and Red Flag Warnings throughout California. The weather event has resulted in widespread lightning strikes, sparking fires throughout the state," the governor said in the emergency proclamation.

The governor said the extreme heat conditions and unavailability of resources have made efforts to contain the fires difficult. The emergency order will permit agencies to deploy every possible resource needed to ensure the safety of residents while these "extreme" conditions prevail.

"Extremely high temperatures and dry conditions are expected to continue, which will further increase the spread of fires statewide and likely result in additional wildfires, further exacerbating the current wildfire situation in California," Newsom said.

"California and its federal and local partners are working in lockstep to meet the challenge and remain vigilant in the face of continued dangerous weather conditions," the release said.

California has been facing extreme weather conditions, with temperatures surpassing 100 degrees in some parts. On Sunday, Death Valley became the hottest place on earth when the temperature reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit. In the rarest of events, Lassen County in northern California was hit by a series of fire tornadoes on Saturday, which rapidly expanded to more than 20,000 acres.

The severe heatwaves have also put enormous strain on the state's power grid and on Aug.14, it announced rolling blackouts for the first time in nearly 19 years, which was canceled Monday.

"I find that the conditions caused by fires, by reason of their magnitude, are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment, and facilities of any single local government and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to appropriately respond," Newsom said Tuesday.

"I find that local authority is inadequate to cope with the magnitude of the damage caused by these fires," he added.

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Representational image. GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / JUSTIN SULLIVAN
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