On Sunday, California fire officials reported significant headway battling the two largest of dozens of lightning-sparked wildfires raging in and around the greater San Francisco Bay area since mid-August, though 60,000 people remained under evacuation.
As of Sunday firefighters had managed to carve containment lines around 56% of the perimeter of a colossal wildfire that has burned more than 375,000 acres across five counties north of the bay, including a swath of the Napa and Sonoma valley wine country region.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), this marked a major gain from 41% containment listed a day earlier for the flame, dubbed the LNU Lightning Complex fire.
Containment of a slightly massive fire called the SCU Lightning Complex, which has carbonized more than 377,000 acres in four counties east and south of the bay, grew to 50 percent on Sunday, up from 40 percent on Saturday, CalFire said.
Those two wildfires – rank as the second- and third-largest wildfires on record in California – account for half of total acreage set on fire during the past two weeks in a series of catastrophic lightning storms.
Meteorologists said the current spate of dry lightning, the most massive seen in California in more than a decade, was linked to the same atmospheric high-pressure system that caused a lengthy heat wave, which in turn further desiccated dense, fire-prone vegetation across the state.
Scientists point to overextended droughts and longer-than-normal stretches of extreme heat as evidence of climate change that has regular intensified and prolonged wildfire season in California and across the Western United States in recent years.