Hundreds of residents have been airlifted to safety in California as the ‘Creek Fire’ blaze rages on.
RESCUERS using military helicopters airlifted over 200 people to safety after an explosive wildfire trapped them in a popular camping area in California’s Sierra National Forest. Record-breaking temperatures strained the state’s electrical grid and threatened power outages for millions.
Between 20 to 30 people suffered injuries and several were severely hurt, according to Fresno Fire Chief Sean Johnson. “Resources are completely stretched thin,” he said. Many homes were damaged or destroyed on Saturday night. Officials estimate half of all homes in the small town of Big Creek were scorched or badly damaged.
Juliana Park recorded video of flames on both sides of her car as she and others fled down a mountain road. “A backpacking trip cut short by unforeseen thunder, ash rain, and having to drive through literal fire to evacuate #SierraNationalForest in time. “Grateful to the SNF ranger who led us down … wish we got her name,” she tweeted.
A backpacking trip cut short by unforeseen thunder, ash rain, and having to drive through literal fire to evacuate #SierraNationalForest in time. Grateful to the SNF ranger who led us down… wish we we got her name. #CreekFire @mercnews @sfchronicle @ABC7 @KTVU pic.twitter.com/37Ys7XGJ2a
— Juliana Park (@julipdoe) September 6, 2020
The California Office of Emergency Services said Black Hawk and Chinook military helicopters were used for the rescues that began late Saturday and continued throughout the night. At least two people were severely injured and 10 more suffered moderate injuries. Two campers refused rescue and stayed behind, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said.
Gender reveal party blamed for the fires
Officials have blamed a gender reveal party for one of several wildfires raging in the US state of California. A ‘smoke-generating pyrotechnic device’ at the event sparked the El Dorado fire, which has now spread over 7,000 acres.
The Creek Fire, one of the largest blazes, has burned more than 73,000 acres so far and authorities said none of it has been contained. It started at about 18.45 on Friday (01.45 GMT on Saturday) in the Sierra National Forest, an area of steep and rugged terrain.