Fires, blackouts, a heat wave and a pandemic: California’s ‘horrible’ month

How many things can go wrong at once?

On Wednesday millions of California residents were smothered by smoke-filled skies as dozens of wildfires raged out of control. They braced for triple-digit temperatures, the sixth day of a punishing heat wave that included a recent reading of 130 degrees in Death Valley. They braced for possible power outages because the state’s grid is overloaded, the latest sign of an energy crisis. And they continued to fight a virus that is killing 130 Californians a day.

Even for a state accustomed to disaster, August has been a terrible month.

Across the state there were 23 major fires reported on Wednesday and more than 300 smaller ones.

In the San Francisco Bay Area alone there were 15 wildfires, most of them burning out of control and feeding off the grasses and shrubs desiccated by the extreme heat. Thousands of residents were ordered evacuated in the wine country of Napa County and from the hills above Silicon Valley in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.

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