California fires: Governor Gavin Newsom declares state of emergency as counties tackle multiple wildfires

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The state of emergency applies to the counties of Fresno, Madera and Mariposa where the creek fire is burning and to the counties of San Bernardino and San Diego where the El Dorado fire and the valley fire, respectively, are rabies, a statement from the State Emergency Services Office (Cal OES) said Sunday evening.

Tens of thousands of acres were burned by the three fires, which also destroyed homes and caused the evacuation of thousands of residents, the Cal OES statement said.

Dangerous flames fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions led to a massive airlift operation that saved dozens of people on Saturday evening. They were celebrating the holiday weekend at Mammoth Pool Reservoir when a wall of flames from the Creek Fire closed the roads in Maderas County, trapping them.

More than 200 people were airlifted from the campsite by a Chinook and Blackhawk helicopter, Cpl. David Hall of the California National Guard said at a press conference Sunday.The rescue operation began on Saturday evening and ended around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, he said. Rescue teams decided to load as many people as possible on board on the second descent to the campsite as weather conditions deteriorated.

“During this second round – when it was more important to get everyone out – it was important that they bring everyone in, get what they could and then everyone ended up taking their places on the floor”, did he declare. “We don’t like to operate that way, but due to the circumstances of this being a life-threatening emergency, the pilots and command made a smart decision asking them to climb. in the helicopter and load as much as they could onto that elevator. ”

Hall said two people were seriously injured and 19 evacuees suffered less serious injuries.

The fires burned thousands of hectares

The Creek Fire in the Sierra Nevada Mountains has burned 45,500 acres and remains at 0% containment early Monday morning, according to the Cal Fire website. The fire broke out on Friday night northeast of Shaver Lake and the cause is still under investigation.

Hundreds of people had to be rescued from the creek fire after a wall of fire trapped people.

The Valley Fire in San Diego County, southeast of Alpine, has burned 9,850 acres since it began on Saturday and is at 1% containment, Cal Fire San Diego said in a tweet Sunday night. Eleven structures were destroyed in the fire and evacuations were ordered in the area.

In San Bernardino County, the El Dorado fire – which started in a gender reveal using a pyrotechnic device – has burned 7,050 acres and is at 5% containment.

There are also multiple lightning complex fires statewide, representing more than 850,000 acres burned between the SCU, CZU and LNU lightning complex fires.

Records broken statewide

This wildfire year is the worst in California history in terms of acres burned. The state broke its statewide scorched land record on Sunday, with 2,094,955 acres burned, Cal Fire Capt. Richard Cordova told CNN.

” It’s crazy. We haven’t even entered the October and November fire season and we have broken the all-time record, ”Cordova said.

“This worries us because we have to get these firefighters out of these lines and prevent them from fighting these fires,” he added.

The thermometer registers a record 121 degrees Fahrenheit in Woodland Hills, California.

A national fire potential outlook for September and October released by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) last week predicted a dramatic increase in fire activity in the West depending on weather conditions . The report states that several multi-day heat and lightning events, associated with blast-ignited and blown fuels, have become extremely dry in California.

At least 10 heat records were broken this weekend, according to a National Weather Service alert.

It was the hottest in more than half a century, with seven more records set in the 1950s broken Sunday in various parts of the state, according to the alert.

Los Angeles County, where at least two fires still burn, saw temperatures hit a record 121 degrees on Sunday in Woodland Hills. The Los Angeles National Weather Service also reported a high of 117 degrees in Paso Robles, making it the highest on record in San Luis Obispo County.

CNN’s Jaide Timm-Garcia, Susannah Cullinane, Alta Spells, Artemis Moshtaghian and Paul Vercammen contributed to this report.

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