California wildfires have burned 1.25 million acres, but firefighters say the weather is now helping


Howard Forest Helitack firefighters return to their helicopter after battling the LNU Lightning Complex on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in unincorporated Lake County, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

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LAKE COUNTY, Cal. –Lower temperatures and weaker winds are helping firefighters get a handle on deadly wildfires that have affected California for days.

More than 650 wildfires, many sparked by lightning, have burned more than 1.25 million acres in the Golden State since August 15. That’s more than six times the size of New York City.

The fires have killed seven people and destroyed more than 1,400 buildings.

On Tuesday, Chief Mark Brunton with Cal Fire said increased humidity and low winds have helped firefighters, many of whom had been working 24-hour shifts.

“The weather’s really cooperating with us,” said Brunton, who is helping oversee the battle against the 78,800-acre CZU Lightning Complex Fire southwest of San Jose, in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.

“We are steadily getting a trickle of resources in, and putting them to work,” said Brunton.

Two larger fires, the 363,000-acre SCU Lightning Complex Fire largely east of San Jose, and the 352,900-acre LNU Lightning Complex Fire in the northern Bay Area, are among the state’s three largest wildfires in recorded history.

Red flag warnings still are in effect for areas covering about 1.6 million in Northern California, Nevada, Oregon, and Montana.

Those warnings say conditions that would be likely to start or spread fires, such as lightning, are imminent.

As of Tuesday, 93 large fires have burned more than 1.8 million acres in 14 states, including 24 in California, 16 in Arizona, 14 in Oregon, seven in Alaska and six in Colorado, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

The National Weather Service issued air quality alerts in parts of California and at least seven other Western states Tuesday.

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