California wildfire death count climbs, 14,000 firefighters working to extinguish blazes

Looting in Santa Cruz has also become an issue as the fire torches the state

Updated: August 25, 2020 - 1:32pm

The death count for the 525 active fired raging across Northern California climbed to seven over the weekend, as the flames destroyed at least 1,200 buildings and burned more than 1.2 million acres. The wildfires began 10 days ago, on August 15.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has assured residents that the state has "deployed every resource at our disposal." 

Of the hundreds of wildfires torching California's land, about two dozen of them are considered major. More than 14,000 firefighters have been dispatched to battle the blazes across the northern and central parts of the sate. Lightning strikes have continued to hit the San Francisco Bay Area, igniting about 10 more serious fires over the weekend and into Monday. 

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has committed 2,400 engines, or 96% of its agency, to fighting wildfires throughout the state. Additional engines from Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington have also arrived to help combat the blazes. 

Nearly a quarter of a million people have been put under evacuation orders and warnings. 

Hundreds of police officers have also been dispatched to Santa Cruz to ward off looters who are using the chaos of the fires to rob stores, banks, and vehicles.

This year, more than 7,000 fires have scorched 1.4 million acres of land. At this time last year, the number of fires was below 4,500 and the destruction totaled just 56,000 acres across the western state. 

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