They're unpredictable and dangerous -- that's how firefighters describe the hundreds of wildfires scorching California for the past two weeks.
The first casualty report is in -- a 63-year-old volunteer firefighter died after collapsing while battling the blaze on the frontline.
With the fires raging across the state, many residents are being forced to flee their homes.
"We are packed and can be out in five minutes if necessary," firefighter Scott Myhre said.
One evacuee said, "What you grab first pictures, computers, documents, some clothing."
Others are ignoring mandatory evacuation orders, choosing to stay behind and try to save homes and businesses.
"The resources don't exist to protect and secure the properties in the fire zone, and until that changes neighbors and friends are having to take care of their own properties," Kirk Gafill said, referring to his restaurant, Nepenthe.
Fighting intense flames fanned by dry winds over the past two week, firefighting crews are exhausted. Resources are stretched thin.
"I've been here 10 days and this is the first day we've had that so conditions are the worst they could be for the fire," Myhre said.
The wildfires have burned through a half million acres statewide. Firefighters have managed to contain hundreds of blazes so far, they say it could take weeks before they get the rest under control.