Wildfires are raging in several parts of California this week, burning through shrub land and neighborhoods and inching perilously close to the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is fighting a total of 22 large fires in different parts of the state that have killed at least 21 people and scorched more than 170,000 acres, including 3,500 homes and businesses. The Tubbs fire in Sonoma and Napa counties alone killed 11 people, making it the sixth-deadliest wildfire in California history.
“Make no mistake: This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event,” Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said Wednesday.
Firefighters have barely contained the blazes and are now bracing for shifting winds that could move the flames in new directions that put more lives and homes at risk. Some 20,000 people are under evacuation order, and many thousands more are affected by dangerously low levels of air quality from the billowing smoke. Ash from the fires is reportedly falling on residents of the Bay Area.
Here are a few of the most striking images we’ve seen so far of the fires, the fight against them, and their impact on Californians. (This post will be updated with new images this week as they become available.)