As more than a dozen fires burned across California, thousands of people were evacuated and millions were still without power Monday as firefighters struggled to contain several massive blazes that have stretched the state’s resources thin.
Fifteen major fires were burning from Northern to Southern California as of Monday evening, including two that required more than 5,000 firefighters to try to keep the flames from spreading.
The largest among them, the Kincade fire in Sonoma County, has been blazing since Wednesday and had burned more than 66,000 acres as of early Monday ― more than tripling its size over the weekend when winds topping 100 mph blew through the region. The fire ― which was still only 5% contained even as over 4,000 firefighters battled it ― has so far destroyed almost 100 buildings. About 180,000 people have been evacuated in the Sonoma area due to the fire.
Meanwhile, the Getty fire, which started in the early hours of Monday in West Los Angeles, had grown to more than 600 acres by noon Monday. The fire, near the famed Getty Center museum complex had destroyed eight homes and damaged at least five more by 5 p.m., but fire officials said they had made some headway and kept the blaze from growing any larger thanks in part to a break in the wind. The blaze was 5% contained by early Monday evening.
“Things continue to progress very well. We’re making good progress,” Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said at a news conference. He noted that officials were confident the 1,100 firefighters battling the flames would gain more ground Tuesday before the wind picked up again later in the evening.
Gregory Bull/ASSOCIATED PRESS Fire crews walk along a blackened ridge as they battle the Getty fire Monday in Los Angeles. Mario Jose Sanchez/ASSOCIATED PRESS A plane drops fire retardant as the Getty fire burns Monday in Los Angeles’ Mandeville Canyon.
The ongoing blaze has spurred evacuations and school closures around West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Celebrities including former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lakers star LeBron James have been evacuated. Many of those evacuations remained in place on Monday, and officials said it could be two days before some residents are allowed to return home.
“I know you are frustrated, I know you are impatient, I know you really want to go home. So do our first responders,” Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin said during the briefing. “They are eager to let you go back. They will let you go back as soon as it is safe.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) declared a statewide emergency on Sunday in response to the many blazes. More than 3,000 people spent Sunday night in Red Cross and other shelters, according to the American Red Cross.
Meanwhile, utility company PG&E shut off power to more than 2 million people over the weekend in Northern California in an effort to prevent further fires ― the largest-ever fire-risk power shutdown by the company.
PHILIP PACHECO/AFP via Getty Images A back fire burns a hillside near PG&E power lines during firefighting operations to battle the Kincade fire in Healdsburg, in Northern California’s Wine Country.
On Monday, PG&E said it had started to restore power in some areas, with about 325,000 customers getting electricity back as of Monday evening. However, PG&E also warned that it was preparing for further shutoffs starting Tuesday after forecasts again called for high winds in the region. The utility company said 605,000 more customers would face mandatory blackouts beginning Tuesday amid the anticipated “severe and widespread wind event.”
“PG&E will continue working to reduce the scope of this next event. For customers who are restored between events, PG&E urges them to use the time to charge any medical equipment, phones and other electronic devices and restock emergency kits,” the company said in a statement.
Newsom noted in a press release Monday that, although PG&E has started the process to restore power, it could take up to 48 hours to “substantially complete,” and even so there were “no guarantees” on timing. These restorations, he said, could overlap with the potential blackouts as winds pick up midweek.
PG&E told HuffPost that some customers who were currently out of power “may remain out throughout the duration” of the next potential shutoff ― meaning for potentially up to five days.
Southern California Edison had also cut power to nearly 16,000 households as of Monday morning for fire prevention efforts.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/ASSOCIATED PRESS Firefighters try to salvage homes Monday as the Getty fire spreads in West Los Angeles.
While the National Weather Service removed its “red flag warning” for the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday, the agency said weather conditions for fires were still “near critical.” The agency also warned of worsening air quality in the area, as some parts of the Bay Area had hazy, smoky air qualified as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”
On Monday, PG&E told state regulators that its equipment malfunctioning may be linked to fires that occurred over the weekend in Lafayette, in the East Bay region, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. A local tennis club was completely burned down by one of the blazes.
PG&E’s equipment has been linked to several major fires in Northern California in recent years, including last year’s Camp fire in Paradise, which killed 85 people, making it the deadliest ever in the state.
This article has been updated throughout with information on the California wildfires.
RELATED COVERAGE California Governor Declares Statewide Emergency Over Wildfires Millions Of Californians Brace For Power Outages As Wildfires Ravage State Thousands Told To Evacuate As Fire Blazes In Northern California Wine Country Download REAL LIFE. REAL NEWS. REAL VOICES. Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. Join HuffPost Plus