Weather gives firefighters relief battling California wildfires

Calif. (Reuters) – Lower temperatures and a let up in lightning storms offered relief on Tuesday to firefighters battling some of the largest and most ferocious wildfires in California’s history.

Three massive blazes in the San Francisco Bay Area grew slightly overnight but their containment ticked up as over 14,000 firefighters fought two dozen major fires across the state.

Authorities say California is in a “megafire era,” with two of the state’s largest ever wildfires burning simultaneously and climate change blamed for blazes in 2,000 year-old redwood forests long spared from flames.

“Isolated thunderstorms are still possible in the upper portion of northern California and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range,” Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of state wildfire authority Cal Fire said in a statement.

Since the unprecedented dry-lightning siege began Aug. 15 over 13,000 strikes have started fires that burned over 1.25 million acres, an area larger than the Grand Canyon.

The fires are far from under control with over 230 strikes in past day sparking new fires after more than 650 in the last 10 days, Cal Fire said.

At least seven people have killed and over 1,400 homes and other structures destroyed.

Smoke from fires created unhealthy air quality for a large swath of northern California and drifted as far away as Kansas.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Tom Brown)