Thousands of people evacuated because of California wildfires

AmericaCalifornia wildfires continue to spread, burning thousands of hectares, forcing more than 6,000 people to evacuate.

The so-called Oak Fire broke out outside Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, central California, from July 22 and lasted for the third day without being contained.

Firefighters battle the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California, on July 24.  Photo: AFP

Firefighters battle a fire near Mariposa, California, on July 24. Image: AFP

More than 2,000 firefighters and 17 helicopters are engaged in fighting the fire, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The fire burned more than 6,300 hectares of land. Hot weather and low humidity make rescue efforts more difficult.

“Severe drought has caused very low humidity in the air,” CAL FIRE said.

The fire destroyed at least 10 homes, damaged five others and threatened thousands of homes. More than 6,000 people have been evacuated, according to Hector Vasquez, CAL FIRE official.

“It was scary. I felt the fire was right above the house and chased us on the way to evacuate,” said Lynda Reynolds-Brown, a resident of the area.

Thousands of people evacuated because of California wildfires

The Oak Fire causes damage after sweeping through woodland near Midpines, northeast of Mariposa, on July 23. Video: AFP

California Governor Gavin Newsom on July 23 declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County because of “an extremely dangerous situation for property and human life”.

In recent years, California and many areas of the western United States have been hit by large, fast-moving wildfires caused by years of drought and a warming climate.

Evidence of global warming is ubiquitous, as more than 85 million Americans in more than 10 states experienced intense heat over the weekend. The US National Weather Service on July 24 warned that temperatures in some parts of the northeast and south-central US could reach 40.5 degrees Celsius.

Hong Hanh (Theo AFP/CNN)

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