California is no stranger to annual wildfires, but 2020 proved to be a wildfire season like none before it. Driven by the effects of climate change and compounded by a shortage of inmate firefighters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 wildfire season became the largest season in California's recorded history with over 4.1 million acres burned and counting, more than doubling the previous record of 1.98 million acres set in 2018. The following photographs document firefighting efforts across both Northern and Southern California during the month of August.
Inmate firefighters with the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Fire Camp 8 return from an aerial deployment as the Ranch 2 Fire burns thousands of acres of Azusa Canyon Thursday Aug. 13, 2020. Camp 8's "Air Attack" crews drop into the middle of a wildfire via helicopters and fight the blaze from the inside out.
Firefighters with the San Francisco Fire Department prepare to defend an evacuated home in northern Napa County as the Hennessey Fire, part of the larger LNU Lightning Complex, creeps down a nearby hill Friday Aug. 21, 2020.
Firefighters with Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit catch sleep on the driveway of a house in the path of the Hennessey Fire Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. The fire, part of the larger LNU Lightning Complex, slowed down overnight, giving the firefighters a long-needed break.
A firefighter with Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit brushes his teeth atop his unit's fire engine at the LNU Lightning Complex Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020.
Flames cover the bark of redwood trees in the Fall Creek State Park during the CZU Lightning Complex fire in Santa Cruz County Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.
A Cal Fire dozer crew stands by for orders as firefighters try to predict where the fire line should be drawn at the SCU Lightning Complex Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020.
Cows voluntarily strut back to their scorched ranch Sunday Aug. 23, 2020 after the SCU Lightning Complex fire destroyed the ranch's fencing, allowing the cows to escape and graze on whatever brush that still remained.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department engine reverses up a bicycle trail as journalists and onlookers alike photograph the Ranch 2 Fire from a safe distance Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.
The Ranch 2 Fire in Azusa Canyon burns close to private residences Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. The fire did not damage any structures.
Daniel Lopez, an engineer with Cal Fire, monitors the advancing Apple Fire in Riverside County as his crew on Engine 3558 prepares to defend an evacuated house Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020.
The Lake Fire in Los Angeles County burns beneath the Milky Way Friday, Aug. 14, 2020.
A Ventura County firefighter stands atop a hill looking over acres of land that he and fellow firefighters helped save from the Holser Fire Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.