Over twenty wildfires have burned across more than 221,000 acres in Northern California and resulted in at least 32 deaths, but officials say that number will likely increase as they continue their search efforts.
“We’re not even close to being out of this emergency,” Mark Ghilarducci, the director of California’s Office of Emergency Services, said Thursday.
Firefighters continue to fight the fires into Friday, all while facing strong gusts of up to 60 mph this weekend, USA Today reports.
There are currently over 8,000 firefighters responding to the disaster, which has destroyed at least 3,500 homes and businesses and caused thousands more to flee their homes.
A California Fire incident report filed Thursday night suggests the fight will not be easy.
“Steep inaccessible terrain coupled with critical fuel moistures, and northwest winds will provide challenges for crews working on the fire,” the report stated, referring to the Redwood fire in Mendocino County, which burned through 34,000 acres and was only 10% contained as of Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The rising death toll has already made this one of the deadliest set of fires the state of California has ever seen. CNN reports the largest of these fires is still going strong.
California Fire Director Ken Pimlott had similar thoughts on the future of the fires as Ghilarducci: “We are a long way from being done with this catastrophe.”
Reinforcements are coming in from across the state to help battle fires, according to Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann, which he told CNN is “starting to give us the upper hand, allowing us to actually … (get) some containment started in certain areas.”
Firefighters will continue working on containing the fires despite the 60 mph winds predicted for the weekend. Authorities are investigating the cause of the wildfires.