Thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes across California, on Wednesday, as nearly two-dozen wildfires continued to blaze amid a record-breaking heatwave in parts of the western United States.
Firefighters were battling 367 known fires throughout the state on Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted, with 23 of them major blazes.
“CA (California) has experienced 10,849 lightning strikes in the last 72 hours and World Record heat temperatures,’’ he wrote.
The volatile mix of intense heat and lightning storms have contributed to the fires, which led Newsom to declare a state-wide emergency on Tuesday.
Evacuations were ordered in several counties and the governor has called upon neighbouring states to provide support.
“We’ve put out every resource we have,’’ Newsom said in a briefing on Wednesday.
One of the largest fires raged near the Napa and Sonoma Valley wine regions, around 80 kilometres north of San Francisco.
The wildfire also tore through the Northern California city of Vacaville, where initial reports said some 19,000 acres of land had been scorched and 50 buildings destroyed.
The smoke from the fire area spread as far as San Francisco.
Newsom called on the approximately 40 million residents of California to save energy as the heatwave placed further strain on the state’s embattled electricity grid.
The World Meteorological Organisation said it was working to verify a Sunday temperature reading of 54.4 degrees Celsius in California’s Death Valley, which would be the highest recorded temperature on Earth since 1931. (dpa