California fires: massive blazes spread as state strapped for resources – live | World news


A utility crewman died on Wednesday while on duty helping clear electrical hazards for first responders. Earlier, the pilot of a firefighting helicopter contracted by the state was killed in a crash during a water-dropping mission in Fresno county.

CalFire officials late on Thursday reported four civilian fatalities in the same fire zone, dubbed the LNU Complex, where the utility worker died, though no details on the circumstances of their deaths were immediately available.

Plumes of smoke and ash fouled air quality for hundreds of miles around fire zones, adding to the misery and health risks of residents forced to flee or those stuck inside sweltering homes that lacked air conditioning.

Medical experts warned that the coronavirus pandemic has considerably heightened the health hazards posed by smoky air and extreme heat, especially for older adults and those already suffering from respiratory illnesses.

“Everything is gone,” resident Nick Pike told CapRadio in Sacramento, the state capital, after he and three neighbors lost their homes near the town of Vacaville, about 55 miles north-east of San Francisco.

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