Thousands of lightning strikes over a wide swath of Northern California ignited more than 700 wildfires that have burned some 44,000 tinder-dry acres of grassland, brush and forest. Firefighters managed to protect most homes in almost all of the fires. The historically bad fire season has been spurred by record low levels of rainfall and warm, flame-whipping winds.
Vegetation is already as dry as a typical October at the end of a long hot summer. "We don't have a lid on it yet," said a battalion chief with the forestry department. "We've got lots of forces deployed out there, and some of these fires are going to continue growing."