California wildfires leave 3 dead; smoke turns skies orange
With over two dozen fires raging across the US state of California, residents in the San Francisco area and neighboring regions are witnessing orange skies due to the smoke and ash. The wildfires in the state have already burned through over 2.5 million acres this year. As of Wednesday, the fires have also led to at least 11 deaths since last month.
Amid heatwave, California experiencing 28 major fires
California is experiencing 28 major fires. The state is notably in the middle of a 20-year mega-drought. Around 14,000 firefighters are engaged in efforts to contain the flames, that have scorched millions of acres of land in California. On Wednesday, smoke and ash from some of these flames enveloped the skies in the northern parts of the state due to strong winds.
11 dead since last month
Officials confirmed three deaths in northern California on Wednesday. They said one of the deceased appeared to have fled their vehicle after driving towards a ditch. The unidentified driver then apparently tried to flee the wildfire before being overrun by the flames, officials said. With this, at least 11 people are confirmed to have died due to the fires in California since last month.
Skies turn orange as smoke blocks sun
In San Francisco and the surrounding areas, residents woke up to orange skies as the smoke and ash from the wildfires blocked out the sun. Reportedly, it appeared to be dawn even at 10:45 am local time. Catherine Geeslin, who lives in the West Portal area of the city, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "It feels like the end of the world."
Why did the sky turn orange?
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), tweeted saying, "Extremely dense & tall smoke plumes from numerous large wildfires...are almost completely blocking out the sun." The Bay Area Air Quality Management District also wrote on Twitter that smoke particles "scatter blue light & only allow yellow-orange-red light to reach the surface, causing skies to look orange."
Fires kill 2 in Oregon; 1 in Washington
Separately, wildfires are also burning through the northwestern state of Washington and in neighboring Oregon, which notably has a cool, damp climate. In Oregon, two people have died due to the fires, while one person has died in Washington.