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National Guard says California on pace for record wildfire season

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Sept. 3 (UPI) — California is set to record its worst fire season in recorded history amid hundreds of wildfires sparked by lightning strikes, the National Guard said on Thursday.

Approximately 1,300 National Guard members from five states including California are assisting fire officials in combatting more than 900 wildfires burning throughout the state.

In 2018 Calfornia recorded its deadliest fire season on record with more than 2 million acres burned. The blazes currently active in the state have burned more than 1.5 million acres as of Thrusday.

“There’s fundamentally no real-term end state to the current fire situation we have,” Army Maj. Gen. Matthew P. Beevers, the California National Guard’s assistant adjutant general, said. “I’m thinking weeks into months before these things are fully contained.”

Beevers noted that the fires in the state “keep getting worse every year” citing climate change as a factor.

“The deleterious effects of climate change continue to challenge our state, our state’s firefighting resources,” he said.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection identified one of the eight people killed in the fires as Diana Jones, a volunteer firefighter from Texas who died battling the Tatham Fire on Monday. A helicopter pilot battling the Hills fire is also among the dead.

The most destructive of the fires, the LNU Lightning Complex, has burned 375,209 acres in Napa Lake, Sonoma, Solano and Yolo counties and is 81% contained as of Thursday, Cal Fire said in its daily update.

The blaze has resulted in five deaths and four injuries in addition to destroying 1,490 structures and damaging 232 more.

Cal Fire also said the largest of the fires, the SCU Lightning Complex, has burned 391,578 acres in Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties and is 78% contained. It has resulted in five injuries, destroyed 105 structures and damaged 17 others.

In the counties of San Mateo and Santa Cruz, the 85,746-acre CZU August Lightning Fire has resulted in one death and one injury, while destroying 1,490 structures and damaging 140 more.

The BTU/TGU Lightning Complex Fire in Butte, Tehama and Glenn counties has burned 64,109 acres, resulting in two injuries, destroying 14 structures and damaging one more.

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