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Newsom Thanks Cal Fire For Efforts During Elevated Fire Danger From High Winds

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday praised the efforts of Cal Fire in containing most of the dozens of wildfires that had broken out in the past 24 hours of elevated high-fire danger across the state.

Newsom opened his comments Tuesday by focusing on the extreme weather and fire conditions that have been experienced across the state during the past few days.

Newsom noted that record hurricane-level wind gusts had been recorded at the Kirkwood ridgetop in the Tahoe area (140 mph) and in Southern California at the San Gabriel Mountains (96 mph) and in Orange County (88 mph) where the Silverado Fire and Blue Ridge Fire are both currently burning.

Over 90,000 people have been evacuated due to those two fires, with most evacuees staying in non-congregate settings at hotels and motels, Newsom said. He also noted that federal disaster assistance funds have been secured from FEMA for both fires.

Newsom said 42 new wildfires had broken out in the state in just the past 24 hours during the elevated fire-danger conditions and praised Cal Fire for their efforts at keeping most of the fires from becoming major disasters.

"It's an extraordinary testament to Cal Fire that you don't know about most of those. They've suppressed the vast majority of those," Newsom said.

The current red flag fire warnings in the state are set to expire at 5 p.m. for Northern California and 11 p.m. for Southern California.

The governor said that since August, 4.2 million acres have burned during the state's unprecedented 2020 fire season. Currently 14 major fires and complexes are still burning with over 5,000 firefighters battling the flames on the front lines.

So far this fire season, Newsom said there have been 31 fatalities and 9,358 structures have been destroyed.

In addition to the latest information on the Orange County fires, Newsom provided updates on two other major wildfires, noting that the August Fire was 93 percent contained at over one million acres, while the stubborn Creek Fire remained at only 63 percent containment and 374,000 acres.

During his address, Newsom put in perspective the historic nature of the current wildfire season.

"I will remind you that six of the top 20 in our state's history have occurred in 2020…the largest being the August complex, over one million acres," said Newsom.

Southern California Edison reported to regulators that it was investigating whether its equipment might have sparked the Silverado Fire near the city of Irvine.

With utility equipment blamed for several destructive fires in recent years, Edison was among the utilities in California that deliberately cut power to customers to prevent equipment from being knocked down or hit with debris in the winds and sparking wildfires.

Two firefighters, one 26 and the other, 31, were critically injured while battling Silverado Fire, according to the county's Fire Authority, which didn't provide details on how the injuries occurred. They each suffered second- and third-degree burns over large portions of their bodies and were getting help breathing at a hospital, officials said.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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