In Depth

In pictures: ‘apocalyptic’ scenes in San Francisco as wildfires ravage California

Coastal city bathed in eerie orange light from flames blazing across the US West Coast

The skies above San Francisco have turned orange as the city is engulfed in vast plumes of smoke from wildfires raging across California.

The BBC reports that around 14,000 firefighters are battling 28 major blazes across California “amid a historic heatwave” that has seen temperatures reach record highs.

“At least eight people have died and 2.5 million acres have been torched” in the past month, says The Telegraph. “And it’s not even California’s fire season yet.”

The area of California burned so far this year is now larger than the state of Delaware, “surpassing the annual state record of 1.96 million acres that went up in flames throughout 2018”, adds The Guardian.

According to the Daily Mail, climate scientists “blame global warming for extreme wet and dry seasons in the US West that have caused grasses and scrub to flourish then dry out, leaving abundant fuel for fires”.

In the coastal city of San Francisco, “residents are largely protected from the fires but not from the toxic smoke, ash and fumes from the flames”, which have “mixed with clouds and fog to paint the sky a dark, terrifying orange”, says The Telegraph.

Describing the “apocalyptic” scenes, local resident Catherine Geeslin told the San Francisco Chronicle that “it feels like the end of the world”.

“It was alarming to see it’s still dark,” she said. “And it will be strange to have lunch in the dark. But you still have to get on with your day.”

Here are some of the images captured by photographers across the city that have been going viral online.

The Golden Gate Bridge, one of San Francisco’s most iconic sights, was shrouded in clouds and smoke on Wednesday morning. (Harold Postic/Getty Images)

The view from Treasure Island, across the water from the downtown neighbourhood of the city, shows the San Francisco Bay Bridge obscured by the orange smoke. (Brittany Hosea-Small/Getty Images)

A resident uses a smartphone to capture the eerie scenes from the Embarcadero waterfront under the Bay Bridge. (Philip Pacheco/Getty Images)

Despite the chaos caused by the wildfires, many citizens continued with their daily routines, including exercising and socialising in the city’s Dolores Park. (Brittany Hosea-Small/Getty Images)

Driving west over the Bay Bridge away from the city, motorists were met with an even gloomier scene as the smoke mixed with the marine layer, a low-hanging sheet of cloud commonly seen in the Bay Area. (Philip Pacheco/Getty Images)

Further north, golfers warmed up on the driving range during the preview day of the Safeway Open at Silverado Country Club in Napa County, a region heavily impacted by the fires. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Smoke has obscured many of California’s mountain ranges and forests, which usually attract millions of visitors each year and are home to some of the tallest and oldest trees on Earth. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Some 30 miles east of San Francisco, closer to the fires, an even more intensely orange sky hung over hiking trails at the Limeridge Open Space near the town of Concord. (Brittany Hosea-Small/Getty Images)

A firefighter battles flames pushing towards homes in the Cascadel Woods neighbourhood of Madera County, California. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

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