CALIFORNIA, USA — 7:30 p.m. update:
Even as firefighters make gains on containing the LNU Lightning Complex Fire, they still expect more growth throughout the operation.
The fire continues to challenge crews with short and long range spotting as it runs in multiple directions, impacting multiple communities.
The fire has grown to 347,640 acres and is 21% contained. 871 structures have been destroyed.
2:30 p.m. update: Cal Fire announces evacuation orders downgraded to evacuation warnings and lifted for multiple areas of Sonoma County.
All of the areas with evacuations lifted are on Cal Fire LNU's twitter page.
11:25 a.m. update: Cal Fire officials are taking precautions as they expect more fires to pop up tonight. A red flag warning was issued on Saturday for the northern half of California due to potential lightning strikes and erratic winds. Crews are preparing to stop lightning-caused fires as they happen tonight.
Officials also said evacuation orders should be taken seriously and that they are given because they are "based on an immediate threat to life."
They told residents in the fire areas to listen for a siren to signal evacuations. Evacuation sirens are in all emergency vehicles and are prepared to go off when they are needed. Officials played the siren and described it as a "high-low" sound.
"If you hear the high-low, it is time to go," said an official.
8:30 a.m. update: Cal Fire officials said the LNU Lightning Complex Fire grew to 341,243 acres overnight and is 17% contained. It's now bigger than the SCU Lightning Complex Fire.
Officials said in an update that they have mostly secured the east side of the Hennessy Fire in Yolo County. Parts of Highway 16 will be closed as officials work to contain it even more.
There are no new evacuation orders and officials say they expect to contain the Meyers Fire today.
Cal Fire says they will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. with a new update and it will be streamed live on Facebook.
9 p.m. update: Cal Fire officials said the LNU Lightning Complex Fire grew to 325,128 acres and is 15% contained.
Officials said 30,500 structures are threatened, 845 structures were destroyed and 231 structures were damaged.
Officials are expecting the LNU Lightning Complex Fire to grow. The fires are continuing to spread in different directions, which are affecting many communities.
Tomorrow's weather forecast calls for dry lightning and thunderstorms, which could cause erratic winds that could lead to extreme fire behavior that could spread the flames.
4:15 p.m. update:
An evacuation order has been issued for Lake County, according to Cal Fire. The Lake County Sheriff's Office has issued an evacuation order for all residents living south of Morgan Valley Road, west of the mandatory evacuation border line at Sky High Ridge Road to Highway 29 and Highway 53 in Lower Lake. East of Highway 29 at Hofacker Lane to the mandatory evacuation border line.
12:30 p.m. update:
Fire crews in California are making slow progress in their battle against some of the largest wildfires in state history thanks to favorable weather overnight and help from other states. Firefighters and aircraft from 10 states are arriving in California to help weary crews fighting the blazes that have killed six people and burned hundreds of homes. Some 560 wildfires are burning throughout the state. The most damaging are three clusters of blazes in the San Francisco Bay Area and nearby wine country. Firefighters hope to make more progress before Sunday brings the threat of lightning strikes that could spark new blazes.
During a press conference Jeremy Rahn, public information officer for the LNU Fire, said over 13,700 firefighters are working on nearly two dozen major fires and lightning complexes throughout California.
"Since the lightning siege that started August 15, nearly 12,000 lightning strikes, with over 100 of them occurring yesterday. During this time period there have been more than 585 new wildfires, which have burned nearly 1 million acres," he said.
The National Guard has been activated and is providing helicopter support and a dozen 20-person crews, according to Rahn. The federal military is supporting the effort with several C-130 air crafts equipped with modular fire systems, he said.
Watch the entire press conference below:
8:52 a.m. update:
The LNU Fire is expected to grow, Cal Fire said. The fire is now 314,207 acres and 15% contained.
"Extreme fire behavior with short and long range spotting are continuing to challenge firefighting efforts," Cal Fire said in a press release Saturday.
The agency said the fire continues to make runs in multiple directions impacting multiple communities.
"Multiple fires have merged on the north side of Lake Berryessa into the Hennessy Fire, and continue to actively burn with critical spreads and move into large areas of timber," Cal Fire said.
Some evacuation orders were lifted in Napa County, according to Cal Fire. They are no longer in effect for the portion of Silverado Trail between Rosedale Road and Highway 29.
Cal Fire will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. on its Facebook page to provide an update on fire efforts.
9:10 p.m. update:
The LNU Fire is 302,388 acres and 15% contained, according to Cal Fire.
5:00 p.m. update:
A Fire Weather Watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for Sacramento and the Bay Area from 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 25. The alert is due to the threat of more dry lightning and gusty winds this weekend.
"We will be refining that as we head towards issuing a Red Flag Warning, so make sure you stay tuned for that refinement," National Weather Service Bay Area said.
4:00 p.m. update:
Lena Howland investigates the damage left behind in Vacaville after the LNU Lightning Complex Fire ripped through the area. One enduring American flag guards the wreckage.
"It looks like Chernobyl," said Audrey Murray, the homeowner of the house that was on this property on Tuesday. "It looks like this place went through a nuclear attack."
Murray had only just received the keys to the house and was preparing to move in when the LNU Lightning Complex Fire tore across the land.
Art Thomas, another resident who lost his home just down the road describes watching the fire as he fled.
"I looked up and watched it up the top up there and watched it come this way," Thomas said. "45 minutes maximum an hour, we were pulling out of here with whatever we could get out of the safe, whatever we could get out of my office, whatever we have personal items. I lost stuff that was on the walls from my great grandfather.”
3:15 p.m. update:
Cal Fire LNU will host a community briefing to provide more information on the fire at 7 p.m. on the Napa County Facebook page.
2:30 p.m. update
Art Thomas, a homeowner in the area of near Pleasant Valley Road and Pleasant Hills Ranch Way said he built his home 31 years ago. He quickly packed what he could when he saw flames a couple nights ago. His house was burned down.
1:05 p.m. update:
All evacuation orders for the city of Vacaville have been lifted. Vacaville Police Department says residents can now return to their homes safely.
12:30 p.m. update:
LNU Lightning Complex Fire fire is now the 10th largest in state history, says Cal Fire.
The fire now encompasses 219,067 acres and with 7% containment. Cal Fire says with all wildfires in California combined, over 771,000 acres is burned, an area about the size of Rhode Island.
11:24 a.m. update:
New evacuation orders have been issued in Sonoma County and Lake County.
The following areas have been issued an evacuation warning:
- Along Morgan Valley Road between Rocky Creek Road and Reiff Road.
Evacuations are mandatory for these areas in Lake County effective immediately:
- North and South of Morgan Valley Road.
- East of Sky High Ridge Road (going north to SR-20), South of SR-20, and West of the Lake County line.
These evacuation orders for Sonoma County are effective immediately:
- North of Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road to the eastern edge of Lake Sonoma
- Everything west of the eastern edge of Lake Sonoma to the western boundary that runs north along the ridgeline from the intersection of Stewarts Point Skaggs Spring Road at Old Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road to the interception of Rockpile Road at Cooley Ranch Road north to the Mendocino County Line.
- All areas south of River Road from Martinelli Road to the Intersection of River Road at Trenton Road, West of Covey Road, North of Front Street/Highway 116 and East of Martinelli Road.
9:45 a.m. update:
The Solano County Sheriff's Office says some evacuations from the LNU Lightning Complex Fires could be lifted this afternoon. In a Facebook video, the sheriff's office said it is meeting now with Cal Fire to discuss plans.
Solano County plans to lift evacuations in phases, meaning not everyone will be allowed back at once. Roadblocks will be set up in the areas and people will need proof of their residency to get in.
"You'll see a lot of fire equipment. You'll see a lot of law enforcement presence," said Lt. Jackson Harris with the Solano County Sheriff's Office. "We are not planning on easing up on that."
When people are allowed back into the evacuated areas, they will still be under an evacuation advisory. "That means, stay prepared to leave at a moment's notice," said Harris. He also suggests that for people who might need more time to evacuate, it would be safer to stay out.
To get alerts for the evacuation changes sign up for alerts at AlertSolano.com.
Firefighters have managed to contain part of the fire near Vacaville. The small section of containment is along the southern edge near I-80 approaching Fairfield and the Gordon Valley area.
7:30 a.m. update:
The LNU Lightning Complex Fires have now burned 219,067 acres, according to an update from Cal Fire.
Containment grew overnight and is now at 7%, up from zero containment yesterday. The number of buildings destroyed remains at 480, with 125 buildings damaged. There are still 30,500 buildings threatened by the fire.
The fires have now grown to 215,000 acres across five counties in Northern California and there is no containment. The fire has destroyed 480 buildings and damaged 125 more. More than 30,000 buildings are still threatened by the fire.
Four people are confirmed to have died. Little is known about the victims, but CAL FIRE officials say three victims were found in Napa County and one was found in Solano County. Four other civilians were injured, officials said.
The LNU Lightning Complex Fires include several fires including Hennessey, Gamble, 15-10, Spanish, Markley, 13-4 and 11-16. The fires are burning in parts of Napa County, Sonoma County, Solano County, Yolo County and Lake County.
Vacaville launched a new website that lets residents determine if their home is in an evacuation zone. Vacaville police did warn of delays at times yesterday as tens of thousands of users tried to access the resource.
After you type in your address, you'll either receive a message saying "Boundary Status: ACTIVE" which means you are in an evacuation area or "No results found" which means you are not in an active evacuation area.
Vacaville Fire Chief Kris Concepcion is urging people to take precautions to protect themselves from the smoke and bad air quality.
"It's very hard to breathe in this kind of environment. So, what you can do is limit the time you are outdoors to what is just necessary, stay inside," said Chief Concepcion. " And if you have a damper on your air-handling system, like you air conditioner, make sure that's closed so the ash can't get in and get inside your house."