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California wildfires: nearly 30,000 evacuated

California wildfires: nearly 30,000 evacuated

California wildfires: nearly 30,000 evacuated

Video subtitle, Wildfires force evacuations in Northern California

  • Author, Mallory Moench
  • Role, BBC News

Tens of thousands of people in Northern California have been asked to leave their homes. as wildfires grow across the state during a heat wave.

About 28,000 people were under evacuation warnings or orders Thursday after the Thompson Fire broke out two days earlier. according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).

Dangerously hot weather is expected to continue with temperatures of 118°F (47°C) forecast in some areas through early next week.

No one has died, while 74 structures across the state have been destroyed or damaged by fires this season.

The city of Oroville, near where the Thompson fire started, canceled its July 4 Independence Day fireworks celebration because of the risk of starting another fire.

“The last thing we need is someone who bought fireworks at a local fire station doing something stupid,” said Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea. “Don’t be an idiot, start a fire and create more problems for us.”

Mr Honea said there had been four fires in the area in the past two weeks and warned the danger was far from over.

“This is a bad fire season,” he added.

As of Thursday evening, the Thompson Fire was 7% contained, indicating some progress as a crew of nearly 2,000 people battled the flames.

At least four people were injured, according to CalFire,1 although the severity of their injuries is unknown.

Fire season has only recently begun in California and typically runs through October. The size and intensity of fires in the state have increased in recent years.

The amount of summer burned areas in Northern and Central California increased fivefold between 1996 and 2021 compared with the previous 24-year period, which scientists attributed to human-caused climate change.

This week, the National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings and red flag warnings (indicating hot, dry and windy weather) across the state. The agency said the “hazardous” temperatures posed a significant or extreme risk of heat stress or illness.

According to CalFire, about two dozen fires have burned more than 10 acres across the state since the last week of June. The largest, at nearly 14,000 acres, was in Fresno County.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Butte County to provide resources.

The Thompson Fire began Tuesday in Oroville, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) north of the state capital, Sacramento. The town is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Paradise, which was devastated by the Camp Fire in 2018 that killed 85 people. Fires have raged through the region again in subsequent years.

CalFire spokesman Robert Foxworthy told the BBC the blaze was no longer growing amid lighter winds but the heat, which was predicted to reach 43C on Thursday, was the “most significant factor” affecting firefighters.

Two days after the fire broke out, many residents were still unable to return to their homes.

Brittanie Hardie, a Louisiana native and recent transplant to California, told the San Francisco Chronicle that she wasn’t home when her girlfriend evacuated their apartment and that she had nothing but the clothes on her back.

“I knew the wildfires were bad in California, but I didn’t know they were this bad,” Hardie told the newspaper.

Oroville City Council member Shawn Webber posted a video on Facebook Wednesday showing smoldering hillsides on either side of a highway, but thanked firefighters for preventing further destruction.

California’s state park system said agencies that responded to the fire “also have employees with families displaced by these evacuations who are tirelessly assisting the Lake Oroville community.”