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United States: Parts of northern California under choking haze from multiple wildfires

California, US: Tens of thousands of displaced Californians huddled under mass evacuation orders in the midst of a heat wave and a pandemic on Friday as lightning-sparked firestorms raged across tinder-dry landscapes in and around the greater San Francisco Bay area.

An estimated 11,000 lightning strikes, mostly in northern and central California, ignited more than 370 individual fires this week, spawning nearly two dozen major conflagrations that threatened thousands of homes and prompted mass evacuations. 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.

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