As of Monday morning on the West Coast, at least 15,000 firefighters were battling 23 wildfires raging across the Golden State, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).
Of these, three were deemed "major blazes", burning in Fresno, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.
The wildfire crisis in California is worsening, fueled by a record-breaking heat wave. This comes after a dramatic rescue over the weekend of more than 200 campers trapped by flames. @Miguelnbc has more. pic.twitter.com/LZtwshhvm2— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 7, 2020
On Sunday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in San Diego, San Bernardino, Fresno, Madera, and Mariposa countries, the worst-affected by what's shaping up to be another brutal wildfire season, exacerbated by a shortage of prisoners to press into service fighting the blazes.
But in his speech, Newsom prattled on about "the realities of climate change".
"California has always been the canary in the coal mine for climate change, and this weekend's events only underscore that reality," Newsom said. "Wildfires have caused system failures, while near-record energy demand is predicted as a multi-state heatwave hits the West Coast for the second time in a matter of weeks."
Newsom also spoke about the record-high temperatures on Saturday, which were piling on the pressure to the state's power grid.
"Californians are rising to the occasion to meet these unprecedented challenges for our energy grid, and I want to thank all of the businesses and individuals who are conserving energy. Californians should heed (California Independent System Operator's) warnings and flex their power to shift energy consumption to earlier in the day."
The heatwave added fuel to the wildfires and strained electrical grids, though rolling blackouts weren't as massive as the ones seen in August. As of Monday morning, 50,000 homes and businesses had no power, according to Poweroutage.US.
The California Independent System Operator (CA ISO), which operates a large chunk of the state's power grid, announced a Stage 2 Emergency on Sunday, where it took steps to 'defend the grid, manage transmission loss and avoid outages'.
CA ISO said it "has taken all mitigating actions and is no longer able to provide its expected energy requirements. A Stage 2 warning requires ISO intervention in the market, such as ordering power plants online."
The Stage 2 Emergency is expected to be reissued on Monday from 3 p.m. through 9 p.m. as wildfires and hot temperatures persist.
#California is being impacted by many big #wildfires. Satellite imagery shows the smoke emanating from these fires. #SantaAna Winds will arrive to #SoCal Tuesday night-Wednesday, worsening the wildfire risk. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/PsKP55mUCE— NWS San Diego (@NWSSanDiego) September 6, 2020
In Los Angeles County on Saturday, a record 121F was seen, beating a previous record of 119F, set in July 2006. The unprecedented heatwave has "continued creating ideal conditions for wildfires," the National Weather Service warned over the weekend. As of Monday, 23 fires are raging across California.
The El Dorado Fire near Yucaipa began when someone lit a firework at a gender reveal party, sparked a massive fire that has burned more than 7,000 acres and was 5% contained as of Monday.
According to @CALFIREBDU, “[a] smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used during a gender reveal party sparked the #ElDoradoFire burning near Yucaipa, which has charred more than 7,000 acres.” @abc7newsbayarea: https://t.co/iifdW2nY8L— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) September 7, 2020
A fire-nado was spotted...
In Northern California, Creek Fire has burned tens of thousands of acres. It's one of the major fires with zero containment. The fire surrounded a campground and destroyed building structures. Helicopters rescued more than 200 people to safety early Sunday, trapped by the blaze.
Dozens of evacuees are evacuated to safety on a Cal Guard Chinook last night after the Creek Fire in central California left them stranded. Photo courtesy California National Guard. pic.twitter.com/mi7X6wchpN— The California National Guard (@CalGuard) September 6, 2020
The 2020 wildfire season has been busy; nearly two million acres have been burnt since the season began, with more than 7,448 confirmed wildfires and upwards of 4,000 structures damaged or destroyed.
This comes at a precarious time for California, as budgetary constraints from the virus-induced downturn, along with the threat by President Trump to defund liberal-run cities, the state could be on the verge of disaster.