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Firefighters monitor a backfire as they work the Walbridge fire in Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve protecting the heritage trees in Guerneville, Calif. on Aug. 25. Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in California Wednesday, as hundreds of fires raze over 1.4 million acres in a natural disaster that's seen over 100,000 people placed on evacuation orders.

The big picture: At least seven deaths have been reported and dozens of properties razed amid dismal air quality. The fires have brought another crisis to a state reporting the most coronavirus infections in the country.

Catch up quick: Firefighters have been facing record-breaking temperatures, dry conditions and more than 13,000 lightning strikes, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

  • Per Cal Fire, the LNU Lightning Complex has charred over 360,800 acres and forcing hundreds to evacuate. It's 33% contained as of Wednesday.
    • The blaze near Vacaville, known as the Hennessey Fire and part of the LNU Lightning Complex, has been one of the most destructive, burning down homes and claiming the life of a PG&E worker assisting first responders. This same blaze has damaged hundreds of structures.
  • The SCU Lightning Complex has razed almost 367,400 acres and was 30% contained.
  • The CZU August Lightning Complex resulted in the evacuation of more than 64,000 people, according to Cal Fire. In Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties, roughly 48,000 residents were required to evacuate.
    • The wildfire has burned some 81,100 acres and was 21% contained as of Tuesday.
  • The River Fire in Monterey County was 58% contained as of Tuesday and prompted mandatory evacuations. More than 48,400 acres have been burned.

Of note: President Trump issued a major disaster declaration for California last Saturday.

More photos: Fires burn across California
A rooster walks by a burned vehicle during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Vacaville, California on Aug. 24. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images
Firefighters work to protect homes in Boulder Creek, California, Aug. 22. Photo: Dylan Bouscher/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images
La Borgata Winery owner Gerry Iuliano beside a burned barrel amid the charred remains of his winery during the LNU Lightning Complex fire in Vacaville, Aug. 23. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images
Firefighters work to protect homes in Boulder Creek, Aug. 22. Photo: Dylan Bouscher/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images
Traffic on Highway 24 as motorists travel through a thick cloud of smoke in Walnut Creek, Aug. 22. Photo: Jose Carlos Fajardo/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images
Embers scatter across Highway 1 as the CZU Lightning Complex fire burns in Ano Nuevo State Park, Aug. 22. Photo: MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images
A Pacific Gas and Electric firefighter walks down a road as flames approach in Fairfield during the LNU Lightning Complex fire, Aug. 19. Photo: Josh Edelson/Getty Images
The remnants of a home near Pleasant Hills Ranch Way in Vacaville, Aug. 20. Photo: Anda Chu/MediaNews Group/East Bay Times via Getty Images
A cabin near Little Basin Road and Highway 236 goes up in flames in Boulder Creek. Photo: MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images
A home burns in Vacaville, Aug. 19. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images
A resident protecting his property as the LNU Lightning Complex of fires burn through Fairfield, Aug. 19. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Firefighters monitor flames as they approach a residence in the valley area of Vacaville, Aug. 19. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images
Firefighters attempt to stop a grass fire from jumping a road in Vacaville, Aug. 19. Photo by Karl Mondon/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images
The site of the Hennessey Fire in Vacaville, Aug. 19. Photo: Neal Waters/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The Lake Fire in the Angeles National Forest, by Lake Hughes, 60 miles north of Los Angeles, Aug. 15. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images
Firefighters battle the Lake Fire near Lake Hughes, Aug. 15. The National Weather Service said Californians can expect excessive heat through Wednesday. Photo: Nick Ut/Getty Images
Firefighters work at night cutting trees and removing vegetation in order to make a firebreak as they battle the Lake Fire, Aug. 15. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images
A pyrocumulus cloud forms atop a smoke plume near the Ranch Fire as seen from Azusa, Aug. 15. The fire has razed some 2,500 acres and has yet to be contained, according to CalFire. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images
A scorched statue in front of a home razed by the fire on Aug. 13. It's one of several properties and vehicles destroyed along Pine Canyon Road west of Lake Hughes. Photo: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Go deeper

Nov 15, 2020 - World

In photos: Egypt uncovers 100 ancient coffins buried 2,500 years ago

Newly rediscovered ancient sarcophagi are displayed in Saqqara, Egypt. Photo: Fadel Dawood/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Archaeologists in Egypt unveiled Saturday some 40 gilded statues and at least 100 ancient coffins dating back over 2,500 years — and some contain mummies.

The big picture: The find in a vast pharaonic necropolis at Saqqara, south of Cairo, follows 59 intact sarcophagi uncovered at the site in September and October. Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Anany told a briefing, "Saqqara has yet to reveal all of its contents," per Al Jazeera. "Excavations are still under way."

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

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