Thousands of people are fleeing forest fires in California. Extreme drought in the US west coast state exacerbates the situation. Many areas are covered in smoke.
San Francisco – More than 10,000 firefighters are fighting a dozen major forest fires in California. Rapidly spreading flames in northern El Dorado County threaten localities and have displaced thousands of residents.
The so-called Caldor fire has grown almost tenfold within 24 hours, as the fire department announced. It has now covered an area of over 217 square kilometers of land.
In the village of Grizzly Flats, a small school and many other buildings burned down, as the “San Francisco Chronicle” reported. Only a few houses were spared. Two people were injured during the evacuation and had to be taken to hospitals. The California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency for the region east of the state capital Sacramento in order to quickly mobilize aid.
Despite a large-scale operation by the fire brigade, the forest fire was still completely out of control on Wednesday. The fire department pointed out dangerous conditions due to extremely dry vegetation and strong winds. Thick smoke lay over the region, and the nearby Lake Tahoe excursion area in the Sierra Nevada was also affected. The environmental authorities classified the air quality at dozens of measuring stations as “unhealthy”. Due to the risk of forest fire and smoke pollution, the El Dorado national forest was closed to hikers and other visitors. The closure is initially planned for the end of September.
Thousands of people were also ordered to evacuate their homes as a precaution in Lake County, around 200 kilometers north of San Francisco. The so-called cache fire is said to have hit several buildings there.
The western United States and Canada have been hit by a series of forest fires for many weeks. The so-called Dixie fire in Northern California has been raging since mid-July and, according to the fire protection authority Cal Fire, has so far burned an area of around 2572 square kilometers. The second largest fire in the history of California is only just under a third under control even after weeks of deployment by the fire department. It destroyed over 1200 buildings and largely burned down the former gold rush town of Greenville. dpa