California Wildfires 25 Times Bigger Than This Time Last Year as 1.4 Million Acres Burned

California has seen 7,002 fires burn around 1.4 million acres of the state in 2020 so far, which is 25 times larger by acreage than the 56,000 acres burned by 4,292 fires this time last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed Monday at a press conference.

Around 1.2 million acres of the total acres this year were burned in the past week, he added. Newsom confirmed seven people have died and at least 12,000 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the fires.

"We are dealing with different climate conditions that are precipitating in fires the likes we haven't seen in modern recorded history," he said.

Over 13,000 lightning strikes since August 15 have led to more than 600 fires across the state. Some 170,000 people remain under evacuation orders, said Daniel Berlant, an assistant deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

California is currently battling 17 major fire complexes, including some of the largest by acreage in the state's history. They include the LNU (351,817 acres) and SCU (360,055 acres) Lightning Complex fires, which are currently the second-largest and third-largest fires by acreage in the state's history, according to Cal Fire.

The largest wildfire by acreage in California's history is the Mendocino Complex fire of 2018, which reached over 459,000 acres, Cal Fire confirmed.

More than 876,000 acres have been burned by the Lightning Complex fires alone, which also includes the CZU (78,684 acres), Tehama/Glenn (49,820 acres) and Butte (3,527 acres) complex fires, according to the latest reports from Cal Fire.

Statewide fire map for Monday, August 24. Thank you to all who are helping keep California safe!

— Cal OES (@Cal_OES) August 24, 2020

On Saturday, President Donald Trump approved the state's request for "a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the state's emergency response to wildfires," the governor's office confirmed in a statement.

Last week, Newsom declared a statewide emergency due to the wildfires taking place in extreme weather conditions. The wildfires come amid the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, which has complicated the state's firefighting efforts.


- Over 13,000 lightning strikes
- 625 fires
- 17 major fires, including some of largest in CA history
- Over 1.2 million acres burned (nearly size of Grand Canyon)

Thank you to all the states that have offered mutual aid to help CA battle these historic fires.

— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 24, 2020

"We continue to battle historic wildfires, but we're also battling this historic pandemic," Newsom said Monday. "Foundationally and fundamentally, we are deploying every resource."

Tents have reportedly been set up at evacuation centers to allow families to maintain social distancing practices, while shelters are trying to source "as many air purifiers as we can," the governor said.

Officials have obtained hotel rooms for 1,500 people who have been evacuated, The Guardian reported.

"We continue to see modest declines overall -- but COVID-19 has NOT gone away. If you're evacuated, stay safe. Wear your mask. Practice physical distancing," Newsom wrote in a post on his official Twitter account.

#COVID19 update:
- Tests reported: 111,456
- Positive cases: 4,946
- 7 day average caseload: 5,798
- Positivity rate: 6.5%

We continue to see modest declines overall -- but COVID-19 has NOT gone away.

If you’re evacuated, stay safe. Wear your mask. Practice physical distancing.

— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 24, 2020

California currently has the highest number of infections in the country, with nearly 676,500 confirmed cases to date, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

From August 10 to 23, the state's three-day moving average of daily new cases was on a slight downward trend, according to the latest report Tuesday from Johns Hopkins University.

Hennessey Fire California August 2020
A fire truck drives through flames at the site of the Hennessey Fire near Lake Berryessa in Napa, California on August 18, 2020. Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images