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Deadly fires in California have claimed at least 30 lives this year

The fourth victim of the Zogg Fire, burning in Shasta County, was burned the day the fire started in Northern California.
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Another death associated with a fire in Northern California was confirmed Wednesday, bringing the death toll from this year's unprecedented wildfire season in the state to 30.

The most recent death was that of a man who was badly burned and evacuated from the Zogg Fire in Shasta County the day the fire started, Sunday, Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini said.

"He was transported to a hospital, and we received word last night that he succumbed to his injuries," Magrini said Wednesday. "So, again, our condolences go out to that family."

Four people have been killed in the Zogg Fire, which has burned more than 55,000 acres and destroyed nearly 150 structures, fire officials said. It was 9 percent contained Wednesday evening.

There are 26 major fires or clusters of fires known as complexes burning across California on Wednesday, with more than 17,000 firefighters working to gain ground on the blazes, said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

Image: Zogg FIre
A house burns on Platina Road at the Zogg Fire near Ono, Calif., on Sunday.Ethan Swope / AP

One of them is the Glass Fire, which erupted Sunday in Napa and Sonoma counties, north of San Francisco, and has burned more than 51,200 acres and destroyed more than 140 homes, according to Cal Fire. It was 2 percent contained Wednesday night.

Around 26,200 structures were threatened by the Glass Fire on Wednesday evening, according to the agency.

Between the two fires, around 48,000 people have been evacuated, Cal Fire said.

Nikki and Kevin Conant, both 52, returned to their home and wine-barrel repurposing business in Santa Rosa to find them destroyed.

"It was like a part of me is gone, burnt up in the fire. Everything we built here, everything we made here is gone," Nikki Conant told The Associated Press. They fled as trees crackled and propane tanks exploded as the blaze reached their community.

"I thought we were going to burn alive. I really did. It was horrible," Nikki Conant said.

No deaths are associated with the Glass Fire.

The entire city of Calistoga, population around 5,000, was under an evacuation order as the Glass Fire was threatening the city, Cal Fire operations section chief Mark Brunton said in a video update.

Firefighters are "doing everything we can to prevent the fire from progressing towards the city of Calistoga," he said.

In Shasta County, where around 2,000 people have been evacuated, the sheriff pleaded for patience, telling residents eager to return that some areas are still unsafe.

Tuesday night, a tree in an evacuation zone fell on a sheriff's patrol car with two deputies inside, crushing the vehicle, the sheriff's office said. The deputies were not hurt. The car was totaled.

Some California officials have pointed to climate change in this year's explosive wildfire season. Gov. Gavin Newsom said this month that since 1980, the average temperature in the state from June to September rose from around 71 to about 74 degrees.

Five of the six largest wildfires in modern California history have occurred since August, according to Cal Fire.

The August Complex, which began in August and has burned more than 949,000 acres in Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity, Tehama, Lake, Colusa and Glenn counties, is the largest in state history. It was 47 percent contained.

"Climate change isn't something to address in the distant future," Newsom tweeted Wednesday. "The climate crisis is here."

Since the start of this year, well over 3.9 million acres have burned in California, Cal Fire said in a daily update Wednesday. More than 7,000 homes and other structures have been destroyed.

While battling the Glass Fire on Sunday, two firefighters were forced to take cover in fire shelters because of "intense fire conditions" fueled by gusty winds, Cal Fire said Tuesday.

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Neither was injured. The fire shelters were described as aluminized cloth tents that reflect heat and provide breathable air for those inside.

Oregon also faced a wildfire crisis, in which nine people died. Ten major fires were still burning in the state Wednesday, and fires have burned more than 1 million acres since the beginning of this year, according to state government agencies.

The number of acres burned this year is nearly double the 10-year average of about 557,811 acres, the Oregon Department of Forestry said.

A child also died in a wildfire in Washington state this month, officials said.