Aug. 18 (Ben Caxton)– A complex of about 20 wildfires caused by lightning has led to evacuations in several Northern California counties, emergency officials said Tuesday.
The fires, known as the Santa Clara Unit Lightning Complex, were situated in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties. As of 1:30 p.m., the complex grew to 25,000 acres and was 0% contained.
Officials ordered evacuations in Alameda, Contra Costa and Stanislaus counties, and issued warnings elsewhere.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the blazes, broken up into three zones, are in steep, inaccessible terrain. It said firefighters are being challenged by fast spread, difficult terrain and triple-digit temperatures.
In Southern California, firefighters have nearly contained the Apple Fire, which as of Tuesday morning burned more than 33,000 acres.
The blaze spans across Riverside and San Bernardino counties, north of Banning. It’s situated mostly in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Officials closed the San Gorgonio Wilderness and portions of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail in response to the blaze.
Thunderstorms expected later Tuesday have fire officials concerned of possible mudslides in the burn-scarred area.
In neighboring Los Angeles County, the Lake Fire grew to more than 21,000 acres and was 38% contained.
There were mandatory evacuation orders in place in the northwestern portion of the county, where more than 4,500 structures were threatened by flames.