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A record-breaking heat wave coupled with rare summer thunderstorms are fueling wildfires across California, with more than 30 burning several hundred square miles Tuesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency surrounding the situation Tuesday afternoon, which he said should help free up resources to combat the fires.

“We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions,” the governor said in a statement.

The operator of California’s energy grid, the California Independent System Operator, also declared a Stage 2 emergency Tuesday and said power shutoffs and imminent. A Flex Alert would remain in effect until 10 p.m.

Nearly 42 million people will be under some type of heat warning in California this week, with some warnings lasting through Thursday and Friday, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.

Temperatures have surpassed 100 degrees in parts of the state, with Death Valley reaching a record breaking 130 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend.

‘Extraordinary unprecedented historic event’

The current combination of extreme heat, thunderstorms and wildfires across parts of California is an “extraordinary unprecedented historic event,” Brian Garcia, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in the San Francisco Bay Area told CNN.

Heatwaves of this magnitude don’t typically last a full week in California, Garcia said, and with thunderstorms that are producing lightning also forecast in the Bay Area, the likelihood of a wildfire being ignited and spread is much higher than usual.

“I’ve been following California’s weather for 15 years and I haven’t seen it in my career,” Garcia said. “There are others in this office who have been here for 20 to 30 years who haven’t seen it in their careers either.”

Garcia said that the record breaking temperatures in California are also intense because the state is in a pressure cooker-like situation where an area of high pressure situated over the southwestern portion of Utah is pushing down on most of the state of California. In other words, the air is pushing down, heating up, and remaining very stationary over the state.

Garcia said August will probably be one of the warmest months on record for California if the current hot temperatures end up outweighing the temperatures from the first half of the month that were fairly pleasant and cool. He added that 2020 may also be one of the hottest years California has seen to date.

“I think when we take a look back at this this year as a whole — in line with everything else that has been going on in the world to make 2020 as crazy as it is — it will probably be one of the warmest years on record for California,” Garcia said. “Although we don’t know those numbers yet… if it continues on that route then yes, we will be able to start to attribute to some degree the stretches that we’ve seen in this year to global climate change.”

At least three cities in the state reported a new record temperature on Monday, a tweet from NWS San Diego said.

Fires still blazing

A total of 38 wildfires are still burning, many of them in Northern California, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The largest fire was the Dome Fire in Mojave National Preserve in the southeast part of the state, which has burned 42,838 acres and was 5% contained, according to fire officials.

The Apple Fire straddling San Bernardino and Riverside counties is also among the largest, burning 33,424 acres since it started on July 31. Fire crews have been battling the blaze for weeks, and it is 95% contained, according to InciWeb.

In Monterey County, the River Fire has threatened at least 1,500 structures, according to Cal Fire. Six have already been destroyed and two have suffered damage in the 3,800 acre blaze that left four firefighters with minor injuries, Cal Fire said.

Smoke from these fires is also a concern for residents as air quality warnings continue in the Southern Joaquin Valley, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy. These will not expire until the fires are extinguished.