California governor issues fire emergency for two counties ravaged by wildfire

April FrancisJul 28, 2018

Smoke and flames are seen as a wildfire spreads through Redding, California, the U.S., July 26, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.

This year so far, nearly 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) have been blackened by wildfires, above a 10-year average of 3.6 million acres (1.5 million hectares) over the same period, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

About 3,200 people were asked to evacuate more than 2,000 homes in the Idyllwild, Apple Canyon, Lake Hemet, Mountain Center, Hurkey Creek and Camp Scherman areas, according to the Forest Service.

Redding fire officials have identified a member of their department who died while battling the explosive Carr Fire in Shasta County. One of those prompted the closure of much of Yosemite National Park in California. "We're fighting the fight right now". The Ferguson Fire near Yosemite, which has charred 45,911 acres (18,500 hectares), was 29 percent contained. She wanted to get as far away as possible, but ultimately stayed with her boyfriend's family in a safer part of town.

Residents were evacuated to a nearby college and elementary school, and a local ABC news station stopped covering the fire in order to evacuate.

"This fire is extremely unsafe and moving with no regard to what's in its path", Cal Fire Chief Brett Gouvea told reporters. Another firefighter hired to try to contain the flames with a bulldozer was killed Thursday, authorities said.

Cars scorched by the Carr Fire rest at a residence in Redding Calif. on Friday
Cars scorched by the Carr Fire rest at a residence in Redding Calif. on Friday

Mike Mangas, a spokesman at Mercy Medical Center, said the hospital was evacuating five babies in its neonatal intensive care unit, which cares for premature newborns, and taking them to medical facilities outside of the area.

The massive blaze was sparked by a malfunctioning vehicle, according to CAL FIRE.

Earlier in the day, with flames exploding around Whiskeytown Lake, people tried to save boats at a marina by untying them from moorings and pushing them to safety. "There have been some injuries to civilians and firefighters", California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesman Scott McLean told the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared states of emergency for the three largest fires, authorizing the state to rally resources to local governments, the AP writes.

As the Carr fire burned through Shasta Co., wildfires scorched several other parts of the state.

The blaze that erupted Wednesday afternoon near the San Bernardino National Forest quickly grew to 7 ½ square miles (19 square kilometers) and fire officials say it threatens about 600 homes. Residents along SR 299 west of Trinity Mountain Road to the base of Buckhorn Summit are also under an evacuation order.

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