The LNU Lightning Complex Fires burn through a neighborhood in Fairfield, California, forcing residents to evacuate. (Trevor Bexon/Shutterstock)

Lightning-sparked Bay Area wildfires remain largely uncontrolled as more storms approach

Lightning-sparked fires continued to burn around the Bay Area Saturday morning, with the largest in the North Bay growing to the second largest in state history — and the National Weather Service is warning that more lightning and thunderstorms are on the way.

— The LNU Lightning Complex fires burning in five North Bay counties had grown to more than 314,000 acres by Saturday morning and were 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

Four people have died in the fires, three from Napa County and one from Solano County. Four others have been injured. The blazes have destroyed 560 structures and damaged 125 others, while another 30,500 structures remain threatened, according to Cal Fire.

The combined size of the fires burning in Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Lake and Yolo counties makes it the second largest in California history, behind only the Mendocino Complex fires that burned more than 459,000 acres in 2018, Cal Fire said. The LNU Complex blazes were sparked by lightning and first reported early Monday.

The Hennessey Fire, the largest in the complex, includes several merged fires in Napa and Lake counties and had burned 261,793 acres and was 15 percent contained by Saturday morning. The Walbridge Fire in Sonoma County, which merged with the Stewarts Fire, has burned more than 50,000 acres and was zero percent contained early Saturday, Cal Fire said.

— In San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County, the CZU August Lightning Complex fires had expanded to 63,000 acres by Saturday morning and were 5 percent contained, Cal Fire said.

The five fires in the complex have destroyed 97 structures and are threatening 24,323 more. Two first responders have been injured in the blazes, which were sparked by lightning early Sunday morning.

Cal Fire said Saturday that an estimated 77,000 residents of the area have been evacuated due to the fires.

Notably, the fires have swept through Big Basin Redwoods State Park, destroying historic buildings and burning hundreds of trees. They also destroyed the farmhouse at Pie Ranch in Pescadero, according to a social media post from executive director Nancy Vail.

— In the South Bay, Cal Fire on Friday night reported the SCU Lightning Complex fires had burned 274,968 acres and was 10 percent contained. Approximately 20 separate fires are burning in multiple locations throughout Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

As of Friday night, Cal Fire was reporting there were two first-responder injuries and two civilian injuries. The fires were threatening 20,065 structures, and five structures were reported destroyed. Crews were planning Friday night to build direct and indirect fire lines and were making the protection of sensitive wildlife and critical power and communication infrastructure a top priority, according to Cal Fire.

— In Marin County, two firefighters who became trapped Friday night while battling the Woodward Fire in Marin County were rescued by helicopter, authorities said Saturday.

The pair of Marin County firefighters were in heavy brush when they became stranded about 8:15 p.m. along a ridgeline about 75 yards from the fast-moving fire, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s rescue helicopter, the Henry 1, was sent to the scene and with a 100-foot long line, pulled both firefighters to safety at the same time.

The operation was complicated by strong, gusting winds that intensified as Henry 1 flew closer to the head of the fire.The Woodward Fire is burning out of control in hilly and remote terrain in the Point Reyes National Seashore, southwest of Olema. The fire, sparked by a lightning strike, has burned more than 2,200 acres and was first reported at 2:27 p.m. Tuesday.

— The National Parks Service said Point Reyes National Seashore will be closed until further notice due to the fire, which had consumed more than 2,200 acres as of Friday night.

All park roads and trails have been closed, and campground operations have also been suspended.

The National Weather Service has issued a fire watch for the entire Bay Area and Central Coast, as strong winds, lightning, and thunderstorms forecast Sunday through Tuesday could lead to new fires.

Winds are predicted to reach anywhere between 40 and 65 mph while scattered thunderstorms are predicted for Sunday heading into Monday morning, and then again later Monday and into Tuesday.

During this time, dry lightning could start new fires throughout the regions. Remote areas are especially at risk, as those fires take longer to report, weather service officials said.

Residents are encouraged to report potential wildfires by calling 911.

Staff and wire reports

Bay Area NewsCalifornia

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