California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in five counties as fast-moving wildfires continue to threaten lives and houses. Amid an unprecedented heatwave, grid operators also warned of possible outages.
The emergency was announced in Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, according to a declaration late on Sunday.
The move was prompted by a massive Creek Fire, which consumed over 18,000 hectares over the weekend, cutting off roads and forcing evacuations in Fresno. Despite some 15,000 firefighters battling the blaze, it was still raging virtually uncontained by Sunday afternoon.
More than 200 people were completely cut off from evacuation routes and had to be airlifted to safety by a California National Guard helicopter. Some 20 of them suffered injuries and were taken to hospitals.
Earlier today while covering the #ValleyFire I got caught right under this plane dropping fire deterrent over an area in the Japatul Valley. My car was drenched in that pink sticky liquid, but I got some pretty cool video in exchange! pic.twitter.com/hbaM1Srp5e
— Amber Frias (@amberfriastv) September 7, 2020
Besides the Creek Fire, at least two major blazes are raging across the state, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. One of them was caused by negligence at “a gender reveal party,” triggered by some smoke generating pyrotechnic device.
Amid an unprecedented heatwave, temperatures hit a record 49 degrees Celsius (121 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday in Los Angeles County, according to the National Weather Service, as electricity grid operators warned customers of potential rotating outages and urged them to conserve power.
Dozens of evacuees are evacuated to safety on a Cal Guard Chinook last night after the Creek Fire in central California left them stranded. Photo courtesy California National Guard. pic.twitter.com/mi7X6wchpN
— The California National Guard (@CalGuard) September 6, 2020
Family member flying out of California this evening just sent along these photos from the flight. She said passengers could smell the smoke from the wildfires in the cabin. pic.twitter.com/ssHjcjzZwc
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) September 7, 2020
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