California fires claim five lives, threaten thousands of homes

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Astonishingly early fires have destroyed at least 175 buildings

A property is ravaged by the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Bonny Doon, Calif.Wildfires that blackened skies, took at least five lives and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes were blazing through California on Thursday, straining firefighting resources by the sheer vastness of the battle lines.

Winds gusting to 20 mph over ridge tops could challenge the overnight firefight in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties, said the incident commander, Cal Fire Assistant Chief Billy See. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the fatalities included a Pacific Gas & Electric utility worker who was found dead Wednesday in a vehicle in the Vacaville area.

Tim and Anne Roberts had gone to the beach with their two children on Monday to avoid the smoke at their home in Boulder Creek in Santa Cruz County. They had packed a change of clothes, their children’s school supplies and their passports – just in case.


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