Previous updates from Northern California wildfires in 2020. This page is no longer updated. Find up to date wildfire information here.
Monday, August 24
5:19 p.m.: More than 14,000 firefighters battling California wildfires
Cal Fire has deployed over 2,400 engines, or 96% of its fleet, according to an announcement Monday. Over 14,000 firefighters are on the front lines. Yet Cal Fire is struggling to contain some of the larger blazes in the state.
The SCU Complex Fire, east of San Jose, is 10% contained, and the LNU Complex Fire, stretching from Napa to Yolo County is 22% contained.
At a press conference Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom pointed to climate change as the driver of this year’s destructive wildfire season.
“We are dealing with different climate conditions [resulting] in fires the likes of which we haven’t seen in modern recorded history,” he said.
Evacuations have impacted more than 100,000 Californians, though some orders have started to lift. As the state shelters over 2,000 evacuees, coronavirus is a top concern. More than half are at “non-congregate” sites, such as hotels, to maintain social distancing.
2:21 p.m.: Some LNU Complex evacuations could lift soon
More evacuation orders could soon be lifted in the massive LNU Lightning Complex fires burning in parts of Solano, Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties.
"From Winters south to Vacaville in the area along Pleasants Valley Road, there's still a lot of heavy mop up, a lot of structure damage and we're right now trying to get that area secure so we can start to move people in during the repopulation phase," said Chris Waters, a Cal Fire operations section chief.
Thunderstorms are still predicted throughout the day, which has the potential for new fire starts.
More than 14,000 firefighters continue to battle wildfires around the state. There are two dozen major fires burning across the state and more than 600 individual fires in all — most of them in Northern California. The one closest to the Sacramento area — the LNU Lightning Complex Fire — is the second-largest wildfire in California history. It has burned more than 350,00 acres and is 22% contained.
Sonoma County officials are urging people affected by the fires to reach out for emotional help if they're feeling depressed. the county sheriff:
"This often time is a time when we start to feel a sense of loss as a community. That sinking feeling really starts to set in about what the loss is," Sheriff Mark Essick said. "So we still encourage you to use those resources out there. The warmlines, you can call 211 for assistance if needed."
"Warmlines" are phone numbers for people to call for mental health help. Meanwhile, Essick says officers are patrolling evacuated neighborhoods.
Sunday, August 23
3:20 p.m.: Lightning storms to start again Sunday evening
Dry lightning storms and strong winds could start in Northern California Sunday evening, according to meteorologists with Cal Fire.
The strikes will stretch from the Bay Area into the Central Valley and Sierra and have the potential to be similar to the siege that started the current rash of fires in the state.
Since August 15 more than 12,000 lightning strikes have started more than 615 fires. More than 1 million acres have burned in the state over that time.
A red flag warning is in effect for much of Northern California through Monday.
7:55 a.m.: Wildfires have burned more than 1 million acres in past week
The wildfires driven by last week's lightning storms have now burned more than 1 million acres, according to the Associated Press.
The two main fires — The LNU and SCU lightning complexes — have combined burned more than 680,000 acres combined. The fires are the second and third largest in state history.
Firefighters are beginning to get help from other states, and Saturday President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration to provide federal assistance. But the state is now under a red flag warning as lightning storms are forecast to return Sunday and Monday.
Saturday, August 22
3:25 p.m.: State Parks close near fire zones
California has fully or partially closed more than 30 state parks and recreation areas because of the many fires burning throughout the state.
Officials are recommending you avoid traveling to parks near fire areas, particularly in Santa Cruz, the Sonoma coast, Monterey and the Bay Area. State Parks is updating a list of closed parks here.
Camping reservation holders impacted by the wildfires are being contacted with cancellation information.
11:38 a.m.: Northern California could see more thunderstorms Sunday, while air quality expected to remain poor
California could get another round of lightning storms starting Sunday and extending until Tuesday, even as local health officials caution that unhealthy smoke from current fires could stay into next week.
The National Weather Service is forecasting dry thunderstorms that they want could produce lighting and fires. NWS has issued a fire weather watch starting Sunday at 11 a.m. and extending until 11 a.m. Tuesday for much of Northern California and the Bay Area.
Meanwhile, current fires could keep air quality in the Sacramento region poor until at least Tuesday, according to the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.
While smoke levels are about half of what they were during the 2018 Camp Fire, levels are predicted to be unhealthy for sensitive groups (usually orange on air quality maps) Monday and Tuesday. It is likely that the highest pollution levels will occur during the afternoon, evening and early morning hours. Health officials recommend anyone who can stay indoors do so.
Cloth and surgical masks do not provide protection against smoke, but are still recommended if you have to go outside to protect against COVID-19. Here are some tips on what you can do if you must go outside.
The city of Sacramento is also transitioning two cooling centers to serve as clean air centers.
Tsakopoulos Library Galleria at 828 I St. and the Hagginwood Community Center at 3271 Marysville Blvd. will operate 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. They will remain open until the smoke diminishes and the air quality improves.
Anyone using the centers will be required to wear a mask or face covering. If an individual does not have a mask, one will be provided for them.
10:32 a.m.: Lightning Complex fires now the second, third largest in state history
The LNU Lightning Complex and SCU Lightning Complex and the are now the second and third largest ever in California.
As of 7 a.m. on August 22, the LNU Complex fires burning around Lake Berryessa have burned 314,207 acres and were 15% contained. The SCU Lightning Complex fires that started in Santa Clara County have burned 291,968 acres and were 10% contained.
The only fire larger is the Mendocino Complex fires from 2018, also sometimes called the Ranch Fire. Those fires burned 459,123 and were active for 160 days.
In other news overnight, the Loyalton Fire in Sierra County has been declared over, and officials will not be providing further updates. The fire burned 47,028 acres.
Friday, August 21
5:24 p.m.: Lightning Complex fires some of the largest in state history
The SCU Lightning Complex burning around Santa Clara County and the LNU Lightning Complex fires in Napa and Solano counties are now both in the top-10 largest recorded fires ever in California.
The SCU Lightning fires — which have caused evacuations into Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties — have now burned 229,968 acres and are the seventh-largest fire on record. The LNU Lightning fires have burned 219,067 acres, the 10th-largest fire, according to Cal Fire.
The largest recorded fire is the Mendocino Complex fires, which burned more than 400,000 acres in 2018.
Further lightning storms are possible from Sunday to Tuesday throughout Northern California, prompting a fire weather watch for the region.
2:18 p.m.: California wildfires have torched roughly the size of Rhode Island
Firefighters across California are battling blazes that have now torched more than 771,000 acres, which is roughly the area of the state of Rhode Island.
The fires have killed at least five people and stretched the state’s firefighting resources thin. California will receive some aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Western states are sending additional resources, but officials worry it may not be enough.
Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted Friday that there have been more than 560 fires since the current situation began, with 18 new fires since yesterday.
9:20 a.m.: Man who lived on Pleasant Valley Road in Solano County died in LNU Lightning fires
One of the four people who has died in the LNU Lightning Complex fires was a man who lived on Pleasant Valley Road in Solano County, the Solano County Sheriff’s Department reports.
Sheriff Tom Ferrara said Thursday that the English Hills area and Pleasant Valley Road in North Solano County is where he anticipates there will be the most damage from the fires.
While the fire is still actively growing, Solano County Sheriff’s Lt. Jackson Harris said Friday morning in a Facebook Live that crews have achieved a little bit of containment in Solano County, about 1%.
Harris stressed that containment does not mean 100% safety, but said the Sheriff’s Department is in talks with Cal Fire to start repopulating portions of the county.
8:05 a.m.: Crews make progress in Loyalton Fire Thursday
The Loyalton Fire in Sierra County is now 60% contained and has burned 46,872 acres.
That containment is up from 38% yesterday morning. All evacuations for the fire have also been lifted except for remaining mandatory evacuation warnings for Balls Canyon Road and Long Valley Road.
Thursday, August 20
8:40 p.m.: Four people have died in LNU Lightning fires
According to Cal Fire four people have now died in the LNU Lightning Complex Fires burning in Napa and Sonoma counties.
Three people have died in Napa County and one in Solano County.
The fires have now destroyed 480 structures, with another 30,500 threatened. Cal Fire said "significant fire growth is expected" as multiple fires north of Lake Berryessa have merged.
6:29 p.m.: LNU Lightning Complex hits different areas harder than others
Things in Downtown Napa were calm Thursday, but areas west toward Lake Berryessa in the evacuation zone were a much different story.
While most people in the area had evacuated, others who have faced multiple evacuations over the past few years decided to stay at their property, CapRadio Reporter Ed Fletcher said.
Click play below to hear his full update.
As of 5:24 p.m. Thursday, LNU Lightning Complex Fires had burned 131,000 acres with 0% containment.
6:15 p.m.: San Joaquin County issues evacuation order
The SCU Lightning Complex Fires that started in Santa Clara County have prompted evacuation orders in San Joaquin County south of Tracy.
The fire has now burned at least 137,475 acres and is 5% contained. It is the largest of the wildfire groupings currently burning in the state.
2:55 p.m.: More than two dozen major fires burning in California
Largely the result of an unprecedented lightning siege with nearly 11,000 strikes over several days, there are more than two dozen major fires scorching California.
Fire officials say that hundreds of thousands of acres have burned, and that competition is tight for resources with so many fires. That has led Cal Fire and the California Office of Emergency Services to ask for support from other states and the federal government.
Due to the wildfire crisis, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is no longer slated to speak during a primetime slot at tonight’s Democratic National Convention.
Statewide, the fires have destroyed 175 homes and other buildings and are threatening 50,000 more. Officials say 33 civilians and firefighters have been injured.
12:56 p.m.: PG&E worker dies while assisting LNU Lightning Complex fire fight
A PG&E employee has died after being found unconscious in the Gates Canyon area while assisting in the fight against the LNU Lightning Complex fires.
After being found, the employee was taken to the hospital by ambulance, where they were later pronounced dead. The employee was clearing infrastructure such as lines and poles in the area to make it safe for first responders.
Evacuations are still in effect due to the fires, which have burned 131,000 acres and are 0% contained.
6:24 a.m.: Some Jones Fire evacuation orders downgraded to warnings
Last night, authorities reduced the mandatory evacuation orders for several areas south of the Jones Fire to evacuation warnings.
As of last night, there were at least 854 residents under a mandatory evacuation order due to the fire and another 1,153 under en evacuation warning.
There are currently two temporary evacuation points open for the fire, one at Ready Springs School at 10862 Spenceville Road in Penn Valley and one at Magnolia Intermediate School at 22431 Kingston Lane in Grass Valley. The Alder Creek School Temporary Evacuation Point was closed yesterday evening due to extremely poor air quality, low utilization and a lack of available hotel rooms in the area.
You can find the latest information on Jones Fire evacuations here.
Wednesday, August, 19
8:54 p.m.: LNU Lightning Fires threaten 25,000 structures, some Travis personnel evacuated
The LNU Lightning Complex fires burning in Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties has destroyed 105 structures and threatens another 25,000, according to Cal Fire.
The group of fires — which includes the Hennessey, Gamble and Spanish fires — has now burned 124,100 acres with 0% containment. Four people have been injured.
Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield announced it was evacuating "non-mission essential personnel and their family members."
5:09 p.m.: Part of I-80 closed in Solano County due to fire
UPDATE: I-80 has been reopened
PREVIOUS POST: A portion of Interstate 80 in Solano County has been closed due to the LNU Lightning Complex fires.
All lanes of the freeway are blocked from Air Base to Cherry Glenn Road in Fairfield, and motorists are advised to use other routes.
Residents in the some areas of Vacaville and Fairfield in Solano Counties have been evacuated after the LNU Lightning Complex moved swiftly into the area Wednesday.
4:36 p.m.: California battling more than 300 known fires, Newsom says
Following the heatwave and lightning strikes in California, crews in the state are currently battling 367 known fires, Gov. Gavin Newsom said today in an update on the wildfires, heat and COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Newsom also reported that there have been at least 10,849 lightning strikes in the last few days in the state, which have sparked some of the fires. The governor declared a state of emergency over the fires on Tuesday.
12:02 p.m.: Air quality alert issued in Yolo, Solano counties due to wildfires
The Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District has issued an air quality alert due to smoke from wildfires burning throughout the region.
The district includes Yolo County and the northeast part of Solano County, which includes Vacaville, Dixon and Rio Vista. There are currently fires burning in Vacaville and Winters within the district, and air quality was already unhealthy due to smoke from the LNU Lightning Complex fires that began in Napa County on Monday and have since spread to the Vacaville area.
The district recommends that residents limit their time spent outdoors to reduce exposure to smoke, and that residents avoid outdoor exercise. Cloth masks, like those worn to prevent the spread of COVID-19, are not adequate to prevent the inhalation of wildfire smoke.
Wondering what you need to know about air quality during fire season? Learn more here.
11:25 a.m.: Some evacuation warnings lifted for Jones Fire
Last night, authorities lifted the Jones Fire evacuation warning for the areas south of Ridge Road and Rough and Ready Highway in Nevada County.
Highway 49 also remains closed in parts of the county, and may stay closed through the weekend as crews work to contain the fire. Sierra College’s Nevada County Campus also remains closed due to the fire.
You can find the latest information on evacuations and road closures in Nevada County here.
6:22 a.m.: Evacuations in Solano County
There are new evacuations in Solano County for the LNU Lightning Complex fires, which have now burned 46,225 acres with 0% containment.
According to the Solano County Sheriff's Office, the evacuation order is for west of Blue Ridge Road to 505, and north of Cherry Glen Road to Highway 128. The order means "there is immediate threat to life."
Evacuation centers have been opened at the
- Ulatis Community Center at 1000 Ulatis Drive
- McBride Senior Center at 91 Town Square Place
- Padan School at 200 Padan School Rd.
- Fairmont School at 1355 Marshall Rd.
- Sierra Vista School at 301 Bel Air Dr.
- Guru Nanak Sikh Temple at 2948 Rockville Rd. will be open at 4:30 a.m. for service animals only
Yolo County is updating a map of evacuation orders here.
The complex contains the Hennesey, Gamble, Spanish, Markely and 15-10 fires. According to Cal Fire, the complex was started by lightning strikes Monday morning.
Tuesday, August 18
7:08 p.m.: Newsom declares emergency over wildfire
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared an emergency Tuesday over wildfires burning throughout California as the state's power grid operator pleaded for continued conservation to avoid rolling blackouts.
The grid operator praised residents and businesses for astonishing conservation efforts that kept the power on Monday night. The state is in a days-long heatwave that has stressed the electrical system and resulted in rolling blackouts over two nights last weekend. Outages, excessive heat, wildfire and the pandemic have people on edge.
Evacuations were in effect or growing in several Northern California communities because of growing fires. Newsom demanded an investigation into two smaller weekend blackouts.
— The Associated Press
5:07 p.m.: Crews continue to battle Jones Fire in Nevada County
Crews are continuing to fight the Jones Fire burning in Nevada County as residents evacuate due to the blaze.
So far, four structures had been destroyed and at least 4,000 people were under mandatory or advisory evacuation orders, according to Cal Fire.
Nevada County has issued new evacuation warnings and mandatory evacuation orders for some areas of the county as the fire spreads. You can find the latest evacuation information here.
As of this afternoon, 350 personnel were battling the fire. Cal Fire reported crews made good progress overnight last night with favorable weather and temperatures in the 70s and 80s, but that the terrain in the area has been a challenge.
YubaNet will be hosting a virtual town hall to brief residents on the Jones Fire on Tuesday, August 19 at 9 a.m. with Cal Fire Chief Brian Estes, Nevada County Consolidated Fire Chief Jim Turner, Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon and Nevada County CEO Alison Lehman.
8:05 a.m.: Crews work to contain Loyalton Fire as lightning remains an issue
The Loyalton Fire grew to 44,147 acres overnight but firefighters were able to prevent any further structures from being destroyed.
Last night fire officials said crews focused on containing the spread near the east of Loyalton, and in keeping the fire northeast of Sierra Brooks. A strong thunder cell last evening made the fire more difficult to control.
Five homes and six buildings have been destroyed by the fire. So far the blaze is 10% contained.
Evacuations remain in place, but Highway 70 is open though under advisory, as fire activity could warrant another closure. Highway 395 is reopened. Find the latest information on evacuations and closures here.
6:09 a.m.: Nearly 4,000 people evacuated for Jones Fire in Nevada County
Nevada County officials say 3,891 residents have been evacuated because of the Jones Fire burning near Nevada City, with more than 11,000 under an evacuation warning.
The fire has now burned 340 acres with 0% containment. It's believed the fire was started by lightning strikes Monday morning as overnight storms came through the South Yuba River canyon in Nevada City.
The county has set up three temporary evacuation points:
- Ready Springs School: 10862 Spenceville Rd, Penn Valley, CA 95946
- Cottage Hill Elementary School: 22600 Kingston Lane, Grass Valley, CA 95949
- Alder Creek Middle School: 10931 Alder Dr, Truckee, CA 96161
Monday, August 17
6:18 p.m.: Evacuations expand for Jones, Butte fires
A series of lightning fires in Butte County and the Jones Fire in Nevada County have led to expanded evacuations Friday evening.
Nevada County is now updating a map of evacuations here.
The Butte County Sheriff's Office is posting emergency alerts with evacuation information here.
3:27 p.m.: Evacuations in place for fires in Butte, Nevada counties
Fires burning in Butte and Nevada counties are prompting evacuation orders and warnings after lightning and dry conditions sparked multiple fires.
Cal Fire is reporting 29 different fires have started around Butte County due to lightning strikes from thunderstorms that have moved through Northern California the past few days. Cal Fire and the county have opened a call center for residents with questions regarding the fires. The number is (530) 538-7826.
The agency is now calling this the Butte Lightning Complex, which includes the Potters Ravine Fire northeast of Oroville. Evacuation orders are in place, and the fires have burned at least 100 acres.
Evacuation orders have been called for the Jones Fire in Nevada County northwest of Nevada City, which as of 3 p.m. had burned 55 acres.
1:26 p.m.: Red Flag warnings in effect as thunderstorms persist
A Red Flag warning is still in effect for much of Northern California today as thunderstorms and lightning strikes continue to move through the region.
Butte County officials say at least 21 different fires have started in their area.
6:48 a.m.: Loyalton Fire in Sierra County continues to grow
The Loyalton Fire in Sierra County is now estimated at 36,295 acres and is 5% contained. As of 5:25 a.m. Monday, there were mandatory evacuations in portions of Plumas, Lassen, and Sierra counties.
Sunday, August 16
1:10 p.m.: Thunderstorms bring chance of wildfire to Northern California
A Red Flag Warning is in effect for much of Northern California through Monday afternoon for thunderstorms and abundant lightning.
Western Nevada is also facing a Red Flag Warning for thunderstorms, which may start new fires, with possible lightning and gusty winds up to 50 mph.
10:01 a.m.: Loyalton Fire now 20,000 acres
The Loyalton Fire in Sierra County is now estimated at 20,000 acres and is 5% contained. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, there were mandatory evacuations in portions of Plumas, Lassen, and Sierra counties.
The fire started Friday evening east of the town of Loyalton and southwest of Mount Ina Coolbrith. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the fire behavior is extreme and smoke is visible throughout the Sierra Valley and North Reno.
On Saturday, the National Weather Service in Reno issued a tornado warning for Southeastern Lassen County. This may have been the first-ever fire tornado warning. Tornado threats have since decreased, but the NWS is warning civilians to stay away from the area.
Follow us for more stories like this
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.