California fires live updates: Voracious fire complex races across 137,475 acres of Bay Area, San Joaquin County – San Francisco Chronicle

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Latest updates from today:

1:16 p.m. “We Only Had So Much Time”: On the Fifth & Mission podcast, reporter Matthias Gafni talks to Jimmy Santos, a Vacaville homeowner who escaped the flames with his wife Wednesday night. They spent harrowing hours waiting in a church parking lot before learning that firefighters were able to save their “dream house,” which they just bought two months ago. Click here to listen.

12:59 p.m. Down-to-the-wire evacuation: Rapid westward expansion of CZU Complex fire flames into Thursday morning prompted an “almost last-minute” evacuation of the coastal community of Davenport in Santa Cruz County, Cal Fire officials said. Sustained winds were expected to drive the fire north Thursday, with potential “significant threats” to Pescadero and La Honda.

12:49 p.m. What’s with the acronym-lightning fire names this time?: The wildfires currently blasting around the Bay Area have unusual-sounding three-letter monikers — LNU, CZU, SCU — and officials say that’s because the sheer number of fires has led to grouping them together in “complexes.” That’s what happens when the fires are sparked by lightning sieges. Read more about fire naming here.

12:41 p.m. Breathe with caution: Air quality in the Bay Area is expected to remain bad on Thursday and into the coming days. Because many of the northern California fires “will burn for days — even weeks — air quality will be extremely poor for an extended period,” climate expert Daniel Swain of UCLA tweeted. A Spare the Air alert is in effect for the Bay Area through Sunday.

12:30 p.m. Fremont opens another cooling center: Fremont now has two respite centers for residents seeking to escape the heat and smoke: the Warm Springs Community Center at 47300 Fernald St., and the Fremont Community Center at 40204 Paseo Padre Pkwy. Both are open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Face coverings are required.

12:09 p.m. Firefighters save Lick Observatory — for now: Firefighters saved the University of California’s Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton, a Bay Area landmark and an important astronomy research facility, from encroaching SCU Lightning Complex flames. Cal Fire and San Luis Obispo teams beat back flames Wednesday night, the university said in a Facebook post that praised their “incredible efforts.” But the observatory remains under threat from the volatile fire, officials said.

12:02 p.m. Santa Cruz County asks visitors to make room for fire evacuees: The county’s emergency operations center is asking tourists staying in hotels and rentals to leave immediately so the lodgings can be used to shelter fire evacuees. The shelters are near capacity and officials are working with schools and other cities to create more shelters, emergency officials said. The county is also asking for tents and cases of water to be donated at the Santa Cruz warehouse, 1082 Emeline Ave.

11:54 a.m. Gavin Newsom is off the Democratic convention schedule: The outbreak of wildfires has forced Gov. Gavin Newsom to cancel his talk to the virtual Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, a spokesman said. Democrats and Newsom aides are in discussions about whether he can still make a different appearance. The story is here.

11:46 a.m. Fire danger closes 100 recreation sites in East Bay: Due to extreme fire activity, park districts and watershed managers shut down Mount Diablo State Park, the Los Vaqueros Watershed and 66 East Bay parks, bringing the total this week to roughly 100 Bay Area recreation destinations shut down by fire. Read The Chronicle’s story here.

11:13 a.m. Walbridge, Stewart fires merge in North Bay: Cal Fire officials said Thursday that their “No. 1 priority” in tackling the massive LNU Complex fires was pushing back against flames moving southeast across Mill Creek toward the communities of Guerneville and Rido Nido. Overnight, two already large fires, the Walbridge and Stewart, merged, creating one gigantic and fast-moving conflagration.

10:44 a.m. Road closures in San Mateo County hills: As the CZU Lightning Complex fires burn to the south, San Mateo County has closed several access routes around Skyline and other roads: Pescadero Creek Road between Alpine and Cloverdale Road; Cloverdale Road between Pescadero Creek Road and Gazos Creek; Alpine Road between Pescadero Creek Road and Skyline; Whitehouse Canyon Road at Highway 1; and Portola Heights Road at Skyline.

10:40 a.m. Fremont cooling center open: Officials have set up a cooling center in Fremont where people can escape wildfires, heat and smoke-filled air at 40204 Paseo Padre Parkway.

10:34 a.m. San Mateo County parks close parking: San Mateo County officials closed parking lots at San Bruno Mountain, Junipero Serra Park, Pillar Point Bluff and Huddart Park as park rangers helped stage firefighting efforts against the CZU Lightning Complex fires. Parks remained open for walk in use.

10:21 a.m. More dry landscape could light up in current erratic conditions: San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties have been largely spared recent wildfires compared to other parts of Northern California, but that may change as voracious blsazes spread. Conditions can rapidly worsen, fire officials warned Thursday. Ample supplies of dry fuel — parched trees and vegetation — could go up in flames across a vast drought-ravaged landscape. Officials projected “significant, erratic conditions and dangerous fire behavior” for at least a day or more.

10:17 a.m. Thousands remain evacuated as fire engulfs structures: Tens of thousands of people remain evacuated Thursday throughout Northern California and hundreds of structures and homes have been damaged or destroyed. Thousands more are still threatened, and the winds accompanying Thursday’s forecast mean firefighters can expect scant assistance from the weather. Read The Chronicle’s story.

9:36 a.m. Big Basin sustains extensive damages: California’s oldest state park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park remains closed after sustaining extensive damage from the CZU Lightning Complex fires in Santa Cruz County, state parks officials said. The fire damaged its headquarters, historic core and campgrounds. The park was evacuated.

9:19 a.m. Google Maps to include wildfire information: Wildfire boundaries, names and other important emergency information now will appear on Google Maps and in search results. Beginning Thursday the company is using satellite data to create a wildfire boundary map in close to real time, refreshing about once an hour, Google said, including warnings when people approach an active blaze.

9:01 a.m. Energy, grid officials say state must plan better on energy reserves: California’s worst electricity crisis in 19 years shows that the state must account for “the fact that climate change will mean more heat storms and more volatile imports, and that our changing electricity system may need larger reserves,” the state grid operator and Public Utilities and Energy commissions are telling Gov. Gavin Newsom. California seems to have relied too much on out-of-state power imports to meet high summer demand, they said. Read The Chronicle’s story.

8:47 a.m. East Bay regional parks shut down: Extreme fire danger has forced closure of East Bay parks except for a handful of shoreline parks, East Bay Regional Park District officials said. Parks still open are Crown Beach and McLaughlin East Shore state parks; Hayward, MLK Jr., Oyster Bay and Point Isabel regional shorelines; and Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area. Wildfires are burning in several East Bay parks: Round Valley, Sunol Wilderness, Mission Peak, Ohlone Wilderness and Morgan Territory regional preserves; and Del Valle and Pleasanton Ridge regional parks.

8:39 a.m. Community in Santa Cruz Mountains is ordered to evacuate: All Felton residents must evacuate immediately by order of Cal Fire officials battling the CZU Lightning Fires. Felton is broken into six evacuation zones. Evacuation centers have been established in San Mateo County at Half Moon Bay High School, 1 Lewis Foster Dr; and in Santa Cruz at the Civic Auditorium at 307 Church St., and 2601 East Lake Ave., Watsonville.

8:28 a.m. SCU Lightning Complex fires grow: The SCU Lightning Complex, a collection of 20 fires in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, grew to 137,475 acres overnight. The fires were just 5% contained by Thursday morning when Cal Fire reported the they “continue to burn in steep rugged terrain” that hasn’t burned in many years. Firefighters face high temperatures after a low-humidity night. About 6,200 structures are threatened. None have been reported destroyed or damaged.

8:18 a.m. The crops don’t wait for tomorrow: Ashy skies cloud Salinas Valley fields that supply much of the nation’s fresh produce; but the wildfires blazing from all sides don’t stop the harvest, and farmers said they have no choice but to plow on through the smoke to put food into stores. And that means farmworkers work in conditions already made extremely difficult by the heat wave and pandemic. Read The Chronicle’s story here.

7:57 a.m. ‘Just exhausted’ from repeat history in Russian River area: It’s become all too familiar for Sonoma County’s Russian River residents — the repeat cycle of wildfires and floods, the packing of belongings for evacuation, the lines of cars snaking away from the area, flakes of ash in the air. “People are just exhausted,” one resident told The Chronicle.

7:40 a.m. Emergency response tested at historic levels: With hundreds of wildfires, extreme heat and rolling blackouts piled on top of the coronavirus this week, California’s emergency response system is enduring one of its greatest tests in recent history. It’s a nightmare situation for residents who cannot go back to their homes, where they have the best shot of protecting themselves from the virus. Read The Chronicle’s story here.

7:06 a.m. Fairfield on alert for looting: With evacuation orders listed for some parts of Fairfield, residents are required to show identification to return home in an effort to prevent looting. Some areas of the city remain under evacuation orders.

6:18 a.m. Bay Area smoke forecast remains grim even as air quality improves slightly overnight: Fine-particle pollution from the wildfires is expected to continue over the Bay Area for days or weeks, and slight improvements overnight may be short-lived. Read the full story.

6:10 a.m. Still no containment for growing CZU Complex fire : The CZU Complex fire grew by about 15,000 acres between 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday morning, bringing the total area burned to 40,000 acres, Cal Fire officials said. There is currently no containment and about 20,000 people have fled the fire’s path. Twenty structures have been destroyed so far, and another 8,600 are threatened.

5:46 a.m. Weather forecast yields mixed bag for firefight: Thursday’s weather forecast calls for slightly cooler temperatures in most parts of the Bay Area and Northern California, National Weather Service meteorologists said. But any help that may bring to the fire fights happening across Northern California may be offset by sustained winds from the northwest of between 10 and 20 mph, with possible gusts of between 25 and 30 mph. Those gusts and low humidity prompted the NWS to extend red flag warnings for Solano County and other parts of the North Bay.

1:40 a.m. Evacuation orders lifted in Fairfield: Evacuation orders for residents of Peabody Road, Cement Hill Road and Vanden Road have been lifted. Evacuation orders are still in effect for other parts of Fairfield.

Updates from Wednesday, Aug. 19

11:25 p.m. Ben Lomond and Lompico in Santa Cruz County must evacuate immediately: Cal Fire issued additional evacuation orders for all areas of Ben Lomond and the area of Lompico in Santa Cruz County. County officials said “If you are unable to stay with friends or family, call the Red Cross at 1-866-272-2237.” Additionally, all areas east of Highway 9, west of Highway 17, south of Bear Creek ad north of the city of Santa Cruz are under an evacuation warning.

11:05 p.m. Evacuation order issued for parts of Lake County: Cal Fire officials issued an evacuation order for the area eastide of Highway 29, including: north of the Napa/Lake County line up to the southern intersection of Highway 29/St. Helena Creek Road (which is across from the Twin Pine Casino); all of St. Helena Creek Road, including up to the Highway 29/St. Helena Creek Road/Butts Canyon Intersection. Cal Fire officials said this evacuation order does not include the “Middletown proper.” Cal Fire officials reiterated that an evacuation order represents an “immediate threat to life. This is a lawful order to leave now. The area is lawfully closed to public access.” Officials advised residents to be alert while driving out of the area because firefighters and other first responders are in the region.

11 p.m. PG&E worker dies while assisting first responders: A Vacaville-based worker for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. died while assisting first responders in the LNU Lightning Complex, PG&E spokesman John Kaufman told The Chronicle. “Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we won’t be sharing additional details at this time,” Kaufman said.

10:15 p.m. Vacaville police clarify evacuation orders, says some areas lifted: Vacaville police clarified evacuation orders impacting the city and said that evacuation orders for the areas south of Interstate 80, including Alamo Drive south of I-80 to Marna Drive, California Drive and Peabody Road have been lifted, police tweeted shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday. Areas that are still under an evacuation order are: the North Alamo and Foothill, areas north of Fruitvale Road and west of North Orchard Road, and west of BV Parkway. “We understand there was conflicting information on other web sites and appreciate those of you who brought it to our attention,” Vacaville police said on Twitter. “We are working with those other agencies to ensure the most correct information is published.”

9:45 p.m. Evacuation order for parts of Santa Clara County: An evacuation order due to the SCU Lightning Complex fire has been issued for areas east of San Jose city limits; south of Mt. Hamilton Road; North of Metcalf Road and San Felipe Road; east to the county line; east of San Antonio Valley Road to Del Puerto Canyon Road to the county line, according to Cal Fire’s Santa Clara County Unit. An evacuation warning was issued for the following areas in Santa Clara County: East of Shingle Valley Road and everything east of Anderson Lake; east of Coyote Creek; east of Coyote Reservoir; east of Roop Road; east of Leavesley Road; east of Crews Road; east of Ferguson Road; east and north of Highway 152; west of the Merced County line; north of Highway 152; south of Metcalf Road at Shingle Valley Road; and east to the Stanislaus County line.

9:40 p.m. Travis Air Force Base announces mandatory evacuations for some personnel: All “non-mission essential personnel” and their family members from Travis Air Force Base are required to evacuate from the base through the North and South Gates, according to an agency Facebook post Wednesday night. Base officials said these personnel should not evacuate from the Main Gate or Hospital Gates. “Mission essential personnel should contact their chain of command for duty status,” Travis Air Force Base officials said.

9:30 p.m. Cal Fire issues evacuation watch for portions of Milpitas: An evacuation watch has been issued for portion of Milpitas including for the area east of Piedmont, Evans and North Park Victoria. City officials said this affected area includes Vista Ridge, Country Club and Downing Road. “This does NOT mean an evacuation will be necessary, but residents in this area should prepare to evacuate if an order is given,” city officials said.

9:23 p.m. Evacuation warning for parts of San Mateo County: An evacuation warning has been issued for parts of San Mateo County including La Honda, Pescadero, Bean Hollow, Skylonda and San Gregorio areas, according to county officials. As of shortly before 9 p.m., county officials said roughly 318 homes and 1,031 residents had already evacuated in immediate fire zones. Half Moon Bay High School, located at 1 Lewis Foster Drive in Half Moon Bay, was established as an evacuation center.

9:22 p.m. Vallejo firefighters, police assist in evacuations, fire response: Vallejo firefighters and police officers are assisting neighboring agencies with evacuations and fire response, according to a statement from Vallejo city officials on Wednesday night. “There is currently no threat to the City of Vallejo,” city officials said. “The Vallejo Fire and Police Departments are staffed and ready to respond to any emergencies in Vallejo.”

9:21 p.m. Evacuation warning issued for Healdsburg: An evacuation warning has been issued for all residents living in Healdsburg (Sonoma County), according to city officials. “Residents may be ordered to evacuate soon,” city officials said. “Do not wait to start gathering your things and be ready to leave. People who need assistance evacuating livestock should call 707-234-7193. For more information, call 2-1-1 or visit socoemergency.org

9:20 p.m. More evacuations in Santa Cruz County: Cal Fire officials announced additional evacuation orders in Santa Cruz County on Wednesday night to include areas of Alba Road, Hubbard Gulch and Fanning Grade, and Davenport South. Cal Fire said an evacuation center has been established at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds at 2601 East Lake Avenue in Watsonville, and at Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium at 307 Church Street in Santa Cruz.

7:25 p.m. Two state prisons in fire zone: State prison spokeswoman Dana Simas said officials are monitoring the LNU Lightning Complex Fire as two prisons in Solano County are in the fire zone but are not in immediate danger. They are the California State Prison, Solano, and the California Medical Facility, both in Vacaville. “To protect staff and incarcerated persons from poor air quality, all have been provided N95 masks at both institutions. All 81 incarcerated persons housed in the outdoor tents erected as a COVID-19 precaution have been placed into vacant spaces within the institutions and the tents have been deconstructed and brought inside. California State Prison, Solano does not currently house any incarcerated persons in outdoor tent structures.”

7:20 p.m. New evacuations ordered in Napa County: Officials ordered evacuations from Highway 128 at the Lake County line to the Silverado Trail and more. For more information, click here.

7:11 p.m. LNU Lightning Complex grows to 124,000 acres: Fire officials said the fire jumped in a day from about 46,000 to 124,000 acres — as it threatened 25,000 structures in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties. It has destroyed 105 structures and damaged 70. It is 0% contained.

6:28 p.m. Civilians injured in SCU Lightning Complex Fire: Civilians were getting treated and evaluated by a Cal Fire Incident Management Team Six for injuries sustained in the Canyon Zone area (San Joaquin, Stanislaus counties) of the SCU Lightning Complex fire on Wednesday afternoon, according to Cal Fire’s Santa Clara Unit. “Information regarding this incident is still developing,” Cal Fire said in a statement posted to Twitter. “We are focusing our efforts on serving those citizens, and as soon as we have any more information available, we will make sure it is sent out.” Cal Fire did not state how many civilians were injured, or the extent of their injuries.

5:55 p.m. Multiple homes burning in Berryessa Highlands: Several homes in the Berryessa Highlands were burning on Wednesday, according to a photo shared on Twitter. “’Few resources to stop the spread as many are being redirected to the progress on the Fairfield” and Vacaville areas, the user said.

5:42 p.m. Fire causes road closures in Vacaville: Vacaville police announced Peabody Road will be closed to traffic at California Drive (southbound) and Chuck Hammond Drive (northbound) because of fire activity in the area. Police said, “Residents in the area are encouraged to evacuate headed eastbound, away from Peabody” Road.

5:20 p.m. Fire evacuees will be screened for COVID-19: Evacuees will be screened for symptoms and undergo temperature checks upon entering evacuation shelters in Sonoma County, county officials said Wednesday. Those who have a fever or other symptoms will shelter in a different location. Officials are still determining where those alternate sites will be. “With the fire situation, even more, we have to be very careful about the mitigation measures as people are going into shelters, as people have to leave their homes and evacuate,” said Sonoma County health officer Dr. Sundari Mase.

5:05 p.m. Interstate 80 closed in both directions in Solano County: The LNU Lightning Complex fire, which jumped I-80 near Fairfield, was closed in both directions. The freeway was shut down at Manuel Campos Parkway with no estimated time of reopening.

5 p.m. Hospitals in Solano County close due to fire danger: NorthBay Healthcare, which runs two hospitals and a number of urgent care and primary care clinics in Vacaville and Fairfield, is closing facilities earlier than usual Wednesday due to fire risk and evacuations. NorthBay Urgent Care in Vacaville closed at 2 p.m. and sent staff to the group’s urgent care facility in Fairfield. NorthBay Center for Primary Care facilities in Vacaville, Fairfield and Green Valley closed at 3 p.m. It is unclear when they will reopen. NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield and VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville remain open.

4:49 p.m. Parts of Fairfield evacuated: The LNU Lightning Complex fire is bearing down on Fairfield, and officials ordered the Paradise Valley area of the city to evacuate. Paradise Valley is on the east side of I-80 in Fairfield. See evacuation order here.

3:35 p.m. Healdsburg lawmaker assesses fires: “We thought we’d seen it all, and then 2020 hits us,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg as intense fires raced Wednesday across Northern California, including areas that have plenty of experience with destruction. “They’ve always said that Mother Nature can pack a real punch. She’s hitting back pretty hard at this moment.”

3:22 Santa Clara County evacuation center set up: An evacuation center for residents of wildfire areas has been established at Creekside Middle School on Peregrine Drive in Patterson, Cal Fire says.

3:07 p.m. Cal Fire orders evacuations in Santa Clara County: Residents in Santa Clara County were ordered to evacuate due to fire danger as of 2 p.m. Wednesday east of: Ed Levine County Park, Felter Road, Sierra Road, Toyon Avenue and Mount Hamilton Road to Three Springs Road. Evacuations were ordered north of Mount. Hamilton Road, south of the Santa Clara County Line, and west of the fire perimeter. Cal Fire issued evacuation warnings in the county east of the San Jose city limits, south of Mount Hamilton Road, north of Metcalf Road and San Felipe Road east to the county line, and east of San Antonio Valley Road to Del Puerto Canyon Road to the county line.

3:01 p.m. East Bay evacuation order lifted for Welch Creek Road: Cal Fire on Wednesday afternoon lifted the evacuation order on Welch Creek Road in Alameda County, where the SCU Lightning Complex Fire had threatened residents.

2:38 p.m. Smoke inhalation sends people to Vacaville hospital: NorthBay Healthcare’s VacaValley Hospital, a 50-bed facility in Vacaville, has been treating evacuees with smoke inhalation issues, with fewer than a dozen arriving as of Wednesday morning. NorthBay’s hospital in Fairfield and primary and specialty care offices remain open as well. “We are, sadly, very experienced at managing the impact of wildfires,” NorthBay Chief Medical Officer Seth Kaufman said in a statement.

2:26 p.m. Alameda County orders evacuations: The Alameda County sheriff’s office told residents Wednesday to “head north” to get out of fire danger. The county ordered evacuations on Mines Road south of Mile Marker 10 “due to extreme fire danger.” Authorities issued an evacuation warning for residents on Mines Road between Mile Markers 2 and 10.

2:15 p.m. Wildfires shut down more than 20 parks in the region: Wildfires have closed more than 20 parks in the greater Bay Area at the peak of summer vacation season. At Lake Berryessa, the region’s No. 1 recreation lake, the Bureau of Reclamation closed all recreation access. Other closures include Russian River sites and a matrix of parks in the Santa Cruz Mountains, including Big Basin Redwoods. Read the story for more parks, lakes and open space closures in San Mateo, Santa Clara, North Bay, Napa and Sonoma counties.

2:07 p.m. Smoke could force A’s to nix game: The Oakland A’s were keeping close tabs on the air quality in the East Bay, monitoring whether the team should postpone its game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday out of health concern. On Wednesday afternoon, the air quality at the Coliseum was listed as unhealthy.

1:59 p.m. Stay inside with windows closed: With smoke from wildfires filling the air across much of the Bay Area — including huge amounts from the SCU complex blaze raging in the eastern Bay Area — authorities issued a Spare the Air alert through Wednesday, banning wood burning, and an air quality advisory through Thursday. Residents were urged to stay inside if possible with windows and doors closed until smoke levels subside. Read more here.

1:39 p.m. California wineries have ‘perfect storm’ of catastrophic conditions: Wildfires are arriving in the winegrowing regions of Napa and Sonoma counties and the Santa Cruz Mountains just as the 2020 wine grape harvest is beginning. The season already promised to be difficult, with heat damage, erratic weather and COVID-19 implications. Read more about this possible catastrophe for the California wine industry.

1:22 p.m. San Francisco air hits “unhealthy” levels: An air quality monitor in downtown San Francisco shows air quality at “unhealthy” levels. Pleasanton, Livermore, Redwood City, Gilroy, San Jose, East Oakland also have unhealthy air quality. Read The Chronicle’s latest reporting on air quality here.

1:11 p.m. Newsom asks Californians to save power: Gov. Gavin Newsom added his plea for state residents to conserve power between peak hours of 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. as blistering heat is expected to stress the grid amid a wildfire crisis. The governor told a news briefing that people should keep their air conditioning thermometer at 78 degrees or above during the “flex alert” hours.

1:05 p.m. Power outage tracker shows what areas are affected: The Chronicle’s PG&E Outage Map provides an interactive site on which people can learn what parts of the utility’s coverage area are affected by blackouts.

12:45 p.m. San Jose State closes due to bad air quality: San Jose State University on Wednesday canceled all in-person and online classes for the day due to projected unhealthy air quality as wildfires to the east and west sent smoke across the area. The university cited “health concerns already heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic” including for fire evacuees.

12:22 p.m. Arrest in connection with Big Sur Dolan Fire: A man detained near the starting place of the Big Sur Dolan Fire was arrested on suspicion of arson, the Monterey County sheriff announced Wednesday. Sheriff’s officials identified the man as Ivan Gomez, 30, of Fresno. The sheriff asked people with any information to contact the department.

12:15 p.m. Crews battle huge “complex” fires raging in state: Cal Fire is battling a series of furious complex fires that defied even partial containment as of Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom told a news briefing. Among the most troublesome thus far are the CZU complex, comprised of 22 blazes in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties; the LNU complex in Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties; and the Carmel Fire — all of which Newsom said are 0% contained; and the Jones Fire in Grass Valley and Nevada County, which he listed as 5% contained.

12:10 p.m. Newsom says 10,849 lighting strikes in 72 hours, 367 fires now: California has seen 10,849 lightning srikes in just 72 hours and firefighters were battling 367 known fires on Wednesday, 23 of them major “complex” fires that are collections of blazes. “This fire season has been very active,” compared to other years, with 6,754 fires across the state so far, compared to 4,007 at this point last year, Newsom told a briefing.

12:02 a.m. Wildfire smoke and coronavirus — not a healthy mix: Smoke from huge wildfires is once again choking the Bay Area, creating unhealthy air quality. With fire season under way this year, how will smoke affect people who have or are recovering from COVID-19, or those with chronic lung diseases? Read the story from Kellie Hwang.

11:55 a.m. Firefighters struggle for control, Vacaville residents recount fear: Hundreds of residents of Vacaville tried to make sense of tragedy Wednesday after being routed from their homes by a lightning-caused fire that raged over hilltops and engulfed homes. The refugees huddled together at evacuation centers as firefighters struggled to keep up with the 85,000-acre fire, which was only 5% contained Wednesday morning. Read more here.

11:48 a.m. Air quality continues to worsen across Bay Area: The worst readings in the Bay Area for fine particles on Wednesday morning were in Pleasanton, Livermore, Redwood City, Gilroy and San Jose where air quality was rated unhealthy. Air in San Francisco was rated “unhealthy for sensitive groups” — a rating that already applied to East Oakland. Read the story here.

11:41 a.m. Cal Fire issues ‘red flag’ warning for Central Valley: Cal Fire is warning residents of the Central Valley and Northeastern California to be ready to evacuate due to fire potential in gusty winds and low humidity Wednesday through Thursday evening. Fire officials urge people to use caution outdoors.

11:34 a.m. Power loss threatens emergency notifications: Wildfires spreading in the Bay Area Wednesday appeared to take down power lines and cell-phone towers, adding unplanned outages to the rolling blackouts anticipated in the afternoon. The power loss and damage to systems threatened cell-phone and internet infrastructure critical to emergency warning systems and online information. Providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast may face a critical test as widespread fires combine with rolling blackouts that the state has not experienced for decades. Read the story here.

11:23 a.m. Power conservation urged for state: California’s electric grid manager is urging the public to conserve power and prevent more rolling blackouts Wednesday as a long, intense heat wave continues and wildfires ravage the state. Residents should use as little electricity as possible from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., according to the California Independent System Operator, a nonprofit that controls most of the state’s grid.

11:10 a.m. More than 100 evacuees receive help at Pescadero High School: A San Mateo County evacuation center and information hub has been set up at Pescadero High School by the Red Cross and local nonprofit Puente de la Costa Sur. As of late Wednesday morning, 108 people in 66 families had come through the center. Read the full story on the CZU August Lightning Complex in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.

10:59 a.m. Monterey County orders evacuations: The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office is ordering fire evacuations for communities within areas north of San Benancio Road, West of Troy Lane, Southeast of Harper Canyon Road to include Harper Canyon Road, Weather Rock Way and Rimrock Canyon Road. Residents should leave the area immediately and evacuate north on San Benancio Road to Highway 68. The county issued an evacuation warning for north of Highway 68 from San Benancio Road east to include all roads off of Portola Drive to Veronica Drive/Estoque Place.

10:52 a.m. Fires threaten communications infrastructure: While phone and internet companies say they’ve beefed up backup power on their networks, the blazes burning in Northern California can knock out critical infrastructure and leave residents without access to emergency alerts and real-time information. Here’s what’s happening with the region’s networks.

10:46 a.m. Santa Cruz Mountains ablaze: Nearly two dozen dangerous wildfires were spreading Wednesday morning in and around the Santa Cruz Mountains along the Pacific coast, prompting 22,000 people to evacuate their homes, officials said. The CZU August Lightning Complex, a collection of 22 lightning-caused fires that started at 3:15 a.m. in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, was pushing southeast toward the community of Bonny Doon, which is home to a few thousand people, authorities said. Read the story here.

10:34 a.m. Smoky air through Bay Area: Smoke from wildfires raging around the region covered much of the Bay Area on Wednesday, creating unhealthy air conditions and triggering several alerts. “The air quality will be very poor for the foreseeable future given rapid spread of fires and stagnant air mass,” according to the National Weather Service. A Spare the Air alert is effective through Wednesday, banning wood burning.

10:18 a.m. Napa County evacuations ordered: Napa County emergency services officials have ordered mandatory evacuations for Highway 121 from Wooden Valley Road to Silverado Trail; Pope Valley Road from Aetna Springs Road to Chiles Pole Valley Road; Aetna Springs Road from Pope Valley to the dead end; Butts Canyon Road from Aetna Springs Road to the Lake County line; and James Creek Road from Butts Canyon Road to the dead end.

10:10 a.m. Cal Fire, stretched thin, seeks help: Cal Fire has requested 125 fire engines from out-of-state firefighting agencies, and additional hand crews, to help out with hundreds of fires that have broken out statewide following lighting storms this week, stretching the state resources thin. Read the story here.

10:08 a.m. The Chronicle’s fire tracker provides interactive updates: The Chronicle’s Fire Map and Tracker enables a real-time look at the status of fires across the state. The Tracker is found here.

10:04 a.m. Vacaville evacuations ordered: Fire officials in Vacaville ordered evacuations for all residents of Pleasants Valley Road and all connecting streets and English Hills Road as walls of fire surged across roadways. The Solano County Sheriff’s Department ordered evacuations for residents west of Blue Ridge Road to I-505 in Vacaville and north of Cherry Glen Road to Highway 128. The Vacaville Fire District said the fire was in Gibson Canyon, and that all of Solar Hills and Gibson Canyon Road area are under evacuation.

9:58 a.m. Flames devour homes, force evacuations: Lightning-sparked fires intensified overnight and threatened communities in and around the Bay Area by Wednesday morning, ensuring California’s new wildfire season will be another catastrophic one. Flames swallowed dozens of homes and other structures as the fast-moving LNU Lightning Complex fire raced toward Vacaville from the northwest, prompting frantic evacuations and rescues.