Sky-darkening wildfires that took at least five lives and forced thousands of people from their homes blazed throughout California on Friday as firefighting resources strained under the vastness of the infernos authorities were trying to control.
Three major complexes encompassing dozens of fires chewed through a combined 770 square miles (1,994 square kilometers) of forests, canyons and rural areas north, east and south of San Francisco Bay. Thousands of acres were ablaze elsewhere in the state.
Tens of thousands of homes were threatened by flames that drove through dense and bone-dry trees and brush. Many of the fires were sparked by lightning strikes from brief thunderstorms this week as a high-pressure area over the West brought a dangerous mix of triple-digit weather and monsoonal moisture pulled from the south.
Some fires doubled in size within 24 hours, fire officials said.
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