California declares state of emergency over massive wildfires | News | DW | 27.10.2019
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California declares state of emergency over massive wildfires

California authorities ordered more than 180,000 people to evacuate and declared a state of emergency in response to raging wildfires. More than two million people have been left without electricity across the US state.

California was deploying "every resource available" to fight multiple wildfires, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Sunday, as thousands of firefighters were struggling to control the flames.

Newsom declared a state of emergency due to "unprecedented" high winds fueling the spread of the fires through dry vegetation. Some 180,000 people have been ordered to evacuate from Sonoma County north of San Francisco. 

"It is critical that people in evacuation zones heed the warnings from officials and first responders," he said in a statement.

The Kincade fire has grown to 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) and destroyed 94 buildings in Sonoma County since it erupted on Wednesday. Only 10% of it had been contained by Sunday, according to officials.

In the south of the state, another major blaze dubbed Tick Fire also prompted evacuations around Santa Clarita area near Los Angeles in recent days. Several smaller fires have also been reported.

Millions without power

The cause of the fires was not immediately known, but Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) power company said one of their high-voltage transmission lines malfunctioned minutes before the Kincade fire started in the same area.

PG&E started cutting power on Thursday to reduce further risks. By Sunday, some 2.3 million residents were left without electricity.

Weather experts predicted powerful gusts of winds on Sunday, reaching 80 mph (129 kph) on hillsides. The high winds are expected to lose intensity by Monday, but might pick up again as early as Tuesday night.

Watch video 02:08

California wildfires rage near LA and in wine country

cw, dj/aw (AP, AFP)

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