Weekend storms could be a mixed blessing for crews battling California’s largest wildfire, experts said Sunday.
Wildfires that tore through more than 100,000 acres forced about 3,000 people to seek shelter and left more than 200 people injured, authorities said.
“It’s going to be difficult to deal with the big smoke in the early morning but it is going to be easier for firefighting later in the day,” said Dan Richards, director of the Western fires division.
He said the smoke could linger and make it harder for firefighters to fight the flames near the Pacific Ocean near San Diego.
The National Weather Service predicted storms that could deliver dry and gusty winds toward Northern California Sunday. But the state has its share of wildfires.
Richards also said firefighters face more challenges in driving the winds and firefighting equipment.
“It’s going to get a little hotter, a little drier and the fires are going to come under more pressure,” he said, noting that wildfires have started more in recent years and are becoming more severe.
About 12,000 residents were evacuated from areas near the conflagration, officials said. About 2,000 residents were trapped in the area near the blaze.
The fire has destroyed about 150 buildings and caused more than $40 million in damage.
California’s fire season typically flares up in March and ends around Labor Day.
The latest California wildfire was one of 11 wildfires across the state that authorities called a “tinderbox.” One of those fires was called the Thomas fire in Ventura County.
More than 1 million people were ordered to evacuate, and emergency shelters were opened Friday in many communities as the fire continued to burn.
As of Saturday night, more than 100,000 people had evacuated. Some evacuees spent Sunday trying to rebuild their homes and getting to work.
An estimated 3,500 people had to be rescued from the fire. Hundreds were still unaccounted