More than 140,000 people are on the run had to leave their homes – and only ten percent of the fires have been extinguished: In California, firefighters continue to fight the devastating fire. Then there is the fear of corona.
Rebecca and Jim Barns from Vaccaville, who live 80 kilometers northeast of San Francisco, have lost everything. Her 370 square meter house burned down within a few hours. “It’s just sad,” says Jim Barns. “My house was destroyed the night we had to flee. The fire is a mean devil. You think you can control it, but you can’t.”
The fires in California have reached a dimension that has never been seen before. And the fire season doesn’t actually start until October. An area the size of Saarland has so far been destroyed by the flames.
The situation in the Santa Cruz Mountains is particularly dramatic. This is a very mountainous region between Silicon Valley and the Pacific coast. “We only have limited resources, we are now at day seven,” says the fire chief there. “More than 60,000 residents had to leave their homes here. We are worried about the weather for the next few days. We ask everyone to be vigilant.”
fear of Covid-19
Fire departments from across the United States and Canada have made their way to California. Around 140,000 people are on the run and had to leave their homes in the Bay Area. The Red Cross has set up emergency shelters, says Patrick McKenna from the aid organization.
He’s been doing this job for 29 years now. “The first 48 hours of an emergency shelter are always chaotic. Because of Covid-19, we have doubled and tripled the space here. That means our reception capacities are reduced by 50 percent.”
However, many do not use these offers – for fear of infection with Covid-19. People spend the night in cars or have gone to see relatives.
The trigger for the fire this time was not overturned electricity pylons, but extreme weather conditions: At the beginning of the week, a mix of subtropical air and days of extreme heat with temperatures of over 40 degrees caused violent thunderstorms. When the discharged over the region around San Francisco, meteorologists counted 12,000 lightning bolts in 72 hours.
Only a good ten percent of the more than 560 fires have been extinguished. Meteorologists have announced a new heat wave with thunderstorms for the coming days.