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Lnu lightning complex fires

The meaning of «lnu lightning complex fires»

The LNU Lightning Complex fires were a large complex of wildfires that burned during the 2020 California wildfire season across much of the Wine Country area of Northern California – Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Solano, and Yolo Counties, from August 17 to October 2, 2020. The complex was composed of numerous lightning-sparked fires, most of which were small. However, while they initially started separate from each other, the Hennessey Fire eventually grew to merge with the Gamble, Green, Markley, Spanish, and Morgan Fires, scorching 192,000 acres (777 km2) by itself, for a total burn area of 363,220 acres (1,470 km2) in the complex. The fire, which burned in the hills surrounding several large cities, such as Fairfield, Napa, and Vacaville, destroyed 1,491 structures and damaged a further 232.[1] In all, six people were killed and another five injured.[2] The LNU Lighting Complex is currently the fourth-largest wildfire in the recorded history of California.[4]

The name of the complex fire refers to the name of the local unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the Sonoma–Lake–Napa Unit (LNU).[5]

In the early morning hours of Sunday, August 16 through Monday, August 17, a series of highly unusual thunderstorms rolled through most of northern California, which came from the moisture of the diminishing Tropical Storm Fausto.[6] With these thunderstorms came a reported 10,849 lightning strikes that – within a 72-hour period – had then presumably sparked 376 known fires across much of the state.[7]

Early on Monday, August 17, at around 6:40 am PDT a spotfire was reported burning in the 60 block of Hennessey Ridge Road near Lake Hennessey which was initially dubbed the 14-3 Fire but then later named the Hennessey Fire.[8] The incident was reported alongside several other fires burning not far from it, most notably the Gamble Fire which began burning in an area off Berryessa Knoxville Road north of Lake Berryessa and west of state Highway 16, the Spanish Fire which was burning near Spanish Flat, the 15-10 Fire burning near the Putah Bridge and the Markley Fire near the Monticello Dam.[9] All of which had been reportedly burning almost completely unchecked as resources meant to combat the incidents had been stretched thin due to the onslaught of new and persisting fires throughout the state. Due to this factor, the fires were not contained during their most critical early phases, and by the evening of that day, the multiple conflagrations sizes were all ranging between 1,000 and 8,000 acres with 0% containment for each fire.[9]

By the morning of August 18, the complex of fires burning through much of the Napa County region had already expanded to collectively encompass over 12,000 acres. By this time, only several hundred firefighters were actively engaging the firelines.[10] Air attack reported additional spotfires beginning to flare up due to the deteriorating weather conditions as between at least 20 to 30 new fires that had been ignited by lightning the day prior were discovered. One of those ignitions was the actively expanding Walbridge Fire (then the 13-4 fire) that had started in rugged hills north of the Austin Creek State Recreation Area of Sonoma County and was now 75 acres in size with vitally no firefighter apparatus engaging the fire.[11] Evacuation warnings were put in place for the rural area in the hills between Healdsburg and Stewarts Point as the fire burned virtually unchecked.[11] Those evacuations were then expanded to include areas east of Sewell Road and King Ridge Road; north of Old Cazadero Road and Austin Creek; west of East Austin Creek and Wal Bridge Ridge; and south of Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road --as well as Guerneville, Monte Rio and other areas north of the Russian River-- which displaced hundreds of residences by nightfall as the fire grew to 500 acres.[11]

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