California Wildfires: Thick Smoke Turns San Francisco Bay Area Sky Orange

The skies shine orange behind the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge in California due to continued wildfires throughout the state.

Powerful, dry winds are sweeping across Northern California for a third day, driving up the risk of wildfires in a region that’s been battered by heat waves, freak lightning storms and dangerously poor air quality from blazes.

The gusts, expected to continue until about noon local time, have already prompted PG&E Corp. to cut power to more than 500,000 people to prevent live wires from falling and sparking fires in dry brush. Blazes already burning have shrouded much the state with smoke, casting an eerie-orange glow as the morning sun rose.

On Wednesday morning, PG&E crews will start inspecting 10,750 miles (17,300 kilometers) of transmission and distribution lines to determine if they can be switched back on, the company said in a statement. However, an elevated threat for fires will persist through Thursday in Northern California, as well as southern Washington and western Oregon, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center.

The shutoffs that California’s largest utility began late Monday are the latest blow for the disaster-weary state, where climate change is making weather ever more extreme. Temperatures have soared to records from Napa to Los Angeles. Wildfires have torched more than 2.2 million acres, the most in records stretching back three decades. Hundreds of thousands of people may be in the dark for days, and will be cloistered indoors to avoid exposure to wildfire smoke and Covid-19.

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