The Slatest

Rapidly Intensifying California Wildfires Prompt Mass Mandatory Evacuation

Firefighters survey Soda Rock Winery as it begins to burn during the Kincade fire in Healdsburg, California on October 27, 2019.
Firefighters survey Soda Rock Winery as it begins to burn during the Kincade fire in Healdsburg, Calif. on Oct. 27, 2019. JOSH EDELSON/Getty Images

Raging wildfires north of San Francisco prompted a mandatory evacuation order for 180,000 people late Saturday night, doubling the expected number of residents displaced by the blaze. Authorities have had trouble containing the Kincade Fire, which started late Wednesday night, and has now spread to 30,000 acres. Fire fighters had just 10 percent of the fire contained as of Sunday morning amidst 90 mile-per-hour winds and dry conditions. The blaze is now expected to result in more than 2 million people in the area losing power.

Cal Fire, the state firefighting agency, said the Kincade Fire had destroyed property—79 buildings, including 31 homes, and vineyards in Sonoma County—but no deaths or serious injuries have so far been reported. In the southern part of California, near Los Angeles, fire officials said the Tick Fire was 55 percent contained and had burned through about 4,615 acres.

Satellite imagery showed Kincade rapidly intensifying Saturday night into Sunday morning.

“Concerns about the fire expanding led Pacific Gas & Electric to conduct a massive power shutdown Saturday evening that will likely mark the largest planned outage in the state’s history,” the Washington Post reports. “The blackouts, which will affect 38 counties in all, began in Northern California around 5 p.m. local time Saturday and cascaded south through the state throughout the evening, according to a statement from the company.”

The Kincade Fire, however, was “possibly sparked Wednesday by Pacific Gas and Electric equipment that had been left on despite widespread power outages intended to prevent fires,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.