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Technology California wildfires: Helicopter crews have airlifted almost 400 people who were cut off by Creek Fire

02:26  09 september  2020
02:26  09 september  2020 Source:   cnn.com

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At least 22 wildfires are raging in California , with the biggest hotspot currently being the Creek Fire near Fresno in the central part of the state, which is completely out of control. More than 60 people are trapped in the Sierra National Forest in that region and are awaiting rescue this morning by helicopter .

At least 224 people were lifted out by helicopter after being trapped at Mammoth Pool Reservoir, a popular lake that was busy for the holiday weekend.

The California Army National Guard colonel in charge of rescuing Sierra National Forest visitors from the fast-moving Creek Fire told CNN on Tuesday airlifts are going extremely well.

a man standing in front of a fire: A Pacific Gas and Electric worker looks up at the advancing Creek Fire along Highway 168 Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, near Alder Springs, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) © Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP A Pacific Gas and Electric worker looks up at the advancing Creek Fire along Highway 168 Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, near Alder Springs, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Col. David Hall told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that about 385 people and 27 animals have been rescued.

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Rescuers in California have been airlifting dozens of people trapped by a huge fire , as crews continue to battle blazes across the state. An initial attempt to rescue the group, stranded in mountain refuge for two nights, was abandoned on Monday night because of smoke from the Creek Fire .

The Creek Fire in Northern California has trapped more hikers and campers. The group that was rescued had been cut off by fire near China Peak in Lakeshore, California . The 13 people landed in a Blackhawk helicopter at the National Guard Base at Fresno Yosemite International Airport where

Helicopter crews Tuesday airlifted at least 148 people who had been trapped by the Creek Fire, one of many wildfires that rage in the Golden State when scorching weather conditions threaten even more.

Tuesday's rescues, which also took 16 dogs to safety, came after more than 200 other people were airlifted from the forest over the weekend. Officials said the Creek Fire as burned 143,929 acres in the Sierra Nevada Mountains northeast of Fresno.

"There are definitely a lot of challenges floating out there. The biggest thing is this fire ended up escalating very rapidly," Hall said.

a group of people in uniform: Some of the people airflifted from the forest by the National Guard arrive at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport on Tuesday. © California National Guard Some of the people airflifted from the forest by the National Guard arrive at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport on Tuesday.

He said backpackers, campers and hikers needed to be taken out by helicopter because the fire could overrun paths to safety or had.

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California is currently experiencing a record heatwave, with Los Angeles reporting its highest ever temperature of Helicopters rescued more than 200 people trapped after the wildfire cut off the popular The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire , blamed a

“The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously.” “Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are Two people were seriously injured and were among 12 hospitalized. On Monday night, a military

It wasn't immediately clear how many more people were awaiting help.

"The people in remote areas are not considered to be ... in any immediate danger. They are simply in spots that are sometimes unable to be accessed other than by helicopter," Fresno County sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti told CNN.

The Creek Fire has forced evacuations in Madera and Fresno counties. The fire is an "unprecedented disaster" for Fresno County, US Forest Service Supervisor Dean Gould said Monday, adding that while major wildfires have occurred in the area before, this fire is the "most aggressive of any of those."

The wildfire has caused heavy structural damage, and current conditions prevented damage inspection teams from getting into the areas to survey exactly how many structures have been lost, a Cal Fire official said during the briefing.

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Wildfires are raging across California with an estimated 25 separate blazes torching over two At least 35 people have been airlifted to safety after being trapped by one of the two dozen wildfires The Creek Fire has rapidly increased in size, and is currently being fought by 800 fire fighters from

The Creek Fire northeast of Fresno, California , in the Sierra National Forest exploded in size At least 20 people were injured, some critically. The fire has destroyed half the homes in Big More than 200 people had to be rescued by helicopters early Sunday when a fast-growing wildfire cut off their

a person with a sunset in the background: Hundreds have been rescued from the Creek Fire. © Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Hundreds have been rescued from the Creek Fire.

The fire began Friday night, and its cause is under investigation.

California wildfires have burned more than 2.2 million acres this year

At least 23 large fires are burning in California, where dry, windy conditions and record-breaking high temperatures have been fueling flames for weeks in some areas.

Another is the El Dorado Fire in Southern California's San Bernardino County, which officials say was sparked Saturday morning by a pyrotechnic device used during a gender reveal party. That blaze has scorched 10,574 acres and was 16% contained as of Tuesday morning, officials said.

a tree with a sunset in the background: A home is engulfed in flames in the Tollhouse area of unincorporated Fresno County early Tuesday. © Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images A home is engulfed in flames in the Tollhouse area of unincorporated Fresno County early Tuesday.

Three groups of fires largely triggered by lightning last month in Northern California -- the SCU, CZU and LNU lightning complex fires -- are mostly contained after collectively burning more than 858,000 acres.

Weather conditions will mean high fire risks from Washington to Arizona -- including much of California -- into Wednesday. As of Tuesday morning, areas covering more than 38 million people in six Western states were under red flag warnings, which caution that conditions likely to start or spread fires -- strong winds and dry conditions -- were imminent or happening.

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More than 200 people were airlifted to safety after being trapped by a fast-moving wildfire near a popular "Simply extraordinary, lifesaving work by the @CalGuard airlifting more than 200 people to safety overnight from the imminent danger of the # CreekFire ," army General Daniel Hokanson, chief

There are multiple locations where people are unable to get out; the record-high heat, low humidity, wind conditions and rugged terrain have made rescue operations The National Guard is working to rescue dozens of people who are still trapped near the Creek Fire in Fresno County, California .

Wind gusts of 30 to 55 mph are possible in parts of California on Wednesday, CNN meteorologists said.

"Wind like this will fuel (fires) and move them along. If you get evacuation notices today, you need to pay attention to them. These fires will be moving very, very quickly," CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

At least 87 large wildfires are burning across the United States, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, and California has been the hardest-hit state. More than 4.7 million acres have been burned nationwide so far this year, according to the NIFC. More than 2.2 million acres have burned in California, Cal Fire said.

That is California's highest one-year number of burned acres in recorded history, Cal Fire said. The state hasn't yet reached what is typically the heart of its fire season, when the notorious Santa Ana winds blow hot, dry air down from inland mountain ranges, adding fuel to an already dangerous recipe for fire.

The frequency of fall days with extreme fire weather conditions in California has more than doubled since the 1980s, driven mainly by climate change, a recent study found.

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California's governor is pointing directly at climate change as the source of the extreme heat wave and a primary factor in the scores of wildfires plaguing California.

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This time last year, California saw 4,927 fires that burned 118,000 acres, the governor said. In 2020, so far there have been 7,606 blazes.

"Wildfires are a big part of the seasonal challenge," Gov. Gavin Newsom said. "The challenge we're facing now is the extreme fire events that we believe are climate induced."

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told CNN it is shocking to the see the impacts of the wildfires in the Western United States, "but not scientifically surprising."

Swain explained that due to human-caused climate change, temperature extremes are climbing higher and the vegetation is drier, which affects fire behavior.

"But climate change has not just made the extreme heat waves that coincided with the fires worse. The bigger effect is the more subtle, long-term warming," he said. "That couple of degrees of (average) warming over decades ... you don't notice it as much, but it's still there lurking in the background, sucking extra moisture out of the vegetation and the soil."

Swain doesn't expect conditions to improve soon for California and other Western states. He said they could be "really extreme" for the next two months.

"I don't see much of a let up," he said.

Oregon and Washington fighting flames too

California's neighbors on the West Coast are suffering with fast-moving fires, too.

In the small eastern Washington town of Malden, more than 80% of the buildings were destroyed by flames.

"The scale of this disaster really can't be expressed in words," Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said. "The fire will be extinguished, but a community has been changed for a lifetime. I just hope we don't find the fire took more than homes and buildings. I pray everyone got out in time."

Wildfires in Oregon are forcing more evacuations in Marion County, the home of Salem, the state's capital, according to the sheriff's office.

The Marion County Sheriff's office has issued evacuation notices for the six cities as well as two other areas, a tweet from the agency says.

At least three additional cities have been told to standby for evacuations as well.

The nearby Beachie Creek fire has spread to more than 500 acres, according to the US Forest Service. It started August 16 and the cause is unknown, the agency said.

For the country as a whole, the number of fires recorded and the acreage burned in 2020 are below the 10-year average for the same period, according to NIFC. A total of 41,051 fires have been reported so far this year, while the average number of fires through September 7 over the last 10 years is 43,745, the NIFC says.

The total acreage burned since the beginning of 2020 is 4,729,287, compared with the 10-year average of 5,708,762 acres at this point of the year, the NIFC said.

'Living in a mega-fire era': Dry lightning could bring new threat as 14,000 firefighters battle more than 625 wildfires in California .
The weather for Tuesday was forecast to be warm and dry, with highs in the low 90s in the San Francisco Bay Area, and erratic winds up to 65 mph. There was more looming danger: Remnants of Hurricane Genevieve are slated to bring thunderstorms early in the day, and dry lightning could hamper efforts to contain current fires and may spark new ones, officials said. © Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP Fire burns in the hollow of an old-growth redwood tree after the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire passed through Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Calif. Start the day smarter.

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