The Bay Area in California awoke to a scene straight out of Mars.
Orange and even red skies blanketed San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, and ash rained down, with wildfires raging far in the distance.
In the Bay Area, no sunrise was visible as a mix of fog and smoke from weeks of fires enveloped towns and cities in a haze that resembled perpetual predawn light.
Large areas of California have burned for weeks as fires consumed 2.3 million acres, or 20 times what burned all of last year, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday. In Washington state, wildfires virtually wiped out an entire small town Tuesday. In Oregon, thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes Wednesday after fires broke out across the state, The Oregonian reported.
Smoke-filled skies added to the fear and tension even for residents whose homes aren’t immediately threatened. Some said it looked like another planet; others like nuclear winter.
Amy Scott of San Francisco takes in the view from the Embarcadero as smoke from various wildfires burning across Northern California mixes with the marine layer, blanketing San Francisco in darkness and an orange glow in San Francisco, California. Photograph: Philip Pacheco/Getty Images
A man photographs Downtown San Francisco in Dolores Park under an orange sky darkened by smoke from California wildfires in San Francisco, California. Three people have died in a Northern California wildfire that has forced thousands from their homes. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters
Visitors are seen in Dolores Park under an orange sky in San Francisco, California. The fire northeast of San Francisco is threatening several communities. Stoked by high winds, it's burned a 25-mile path through mountainous terrain and parched foothills. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters
Pedestrians walk toward Waverly Place lit with traditional Chinese lanterns under an orange sky in San Francisco, California. Hundreds of homes and other buildings are believed to have been damaged or destroyed, fire officials said. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters
A tree engulfed in flames is seen during the Creek Fire in Tollhouse, California. Since the middle of August, fires in California have killed eight people, destroyed more than 3,600 structures, burned old growth redwoods, charred chaparral and forced evacuations in communities near the coast, in wine country and along the Sierra Nevada. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters
The Bay Bridge is seen under an orange sky darkened by the smoke from California wildfires in San Francisco. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters
Charred vehicles are seen after the Bear Fire burned through Berry Creek, California. The National Weather Service warned that the situation could worsen as additional smoke particles fall from higher in the atmosphere. Photograph: Fred Greaves/Reuters
The historical Alcatraz Island is seen under an orange sky in San Francisco, California. Long-time residents wonder whether the haze might become a regular part of living on the West Coast. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters