Philip Pacheco/Getty Images
Wildfires have blanketed areas like San Francisco in darkness.

More than 2.3 million acres in California have burned in 2020.

J.D. Simkins  – September 9, 2020

A series of fires scattered across California have rendered the Golden State an post-apocalyptic hellscape of orange-tinted skies and snowing ash.

Imagery of aerial phenomena in places like San Francisco, the result of a series of simultaneously-burning conflagrations, has been shared across social media by bewildered residents who remain uncertain of what to do next.

In some parts of California the otherworldly scene has blacked out the sky to the point that drivers are having to use headlights to see during what would normally be broad daylight.

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To date, more than 2.3 million acres in California have burned in 2020, according to Cal Fire, a number that dwarfs the 118,000 acres that were scorched by this time last year.

Photos circulating online have many comparing the alien planet-like visuals to the fictional cinematography featured in Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049.

Up the coast, Oregon residents, including every last person in the town of Phoenix, have been ordered to evacuate due to the imminent threat of an approaching inferno.

“We’re in an unprecedented fire event,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown tweeted Tuesday. “Several significant, growing fires across the state continue to spread due to hot, dry weather & high winds. Oregonians’ lives are at risk. Follow evacuation orders, try to reduce your smoke exposure – and take care of each other.”

In Southern California a gender reveal party gone wrong sparked a fire when a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” designed to reveal pink or blue smoke ignited the adjacent wild grass in El Dorado Ranch Park, an area approximately 80 miles east of Los Angeles.

More than 10,000 acres of San Bernardino National Forest have been torched as a result, destroying ecosystems and forcing the evacuation of 21,000 residents.

Gender reveal party catastrophes are nothing new. In 2017, one Arizona-based border patrol agent’s use of an explosive object during a gender reveal party ignited a blaze that scorched 47,000 acres. Last year a similar party in Iowa killed a 56-year-old woman when the explosive device, rigged to reveal the sex of a child, instead acted as a pipe bomb that sent shrapnel flying toward the family, mortally wounding the grandmother-to-be. And one such party was the catalyst for a plane crash.

“With the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire,” Cal Fire said in a release. “Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and
criminally responsible.”

Satellite imagery on Sept. 9 from the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center revealed the grim picture of a staggering smoke cloud enveloping nearly the entire West Coast and extending well out into the Pacific Ocean.

A combination of strong winds and a relentless heat wave has produced a dry environment especially susceptible to fires, according to the National Weather Service.

But minor relief may finally be in sight, “as winds are expected to continue to diminish,” the Weather Service announced.

“However, with temperatures remaining above average and relative humidities low, an elevated fire weather threat will continue across large portions of the West coast from California into the Pacific Northwest.”

Additional imagery of eerie skies over the West Coast can be viewed below.

Josh Bergström, Newberg, OR

Josh Bergström, Newberg, OR

Thomas J. Story, Emeryville, CA

Josh Bergström, Newberg, OR

Thomas J. Story, Emeryville, CA

Nicole Clausing, Castro Valley, CA

Valley Fire on a Hill, Crest, CA

Johnna Hitt, Crest, CA

Valley Fire Flames and Flag

Johnna Hitt, Crest, CA

Valley Fire Eerie Cloud

David Coffey, Crest, CA


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