California wildfires: Nearly 30,000 people evacuated

video caption, Massive fire in Northern California forces people to evacuate

  • Author, Mallory Moench
  • Role, BBC News

Thousands of people in Northern California have been asked to leave their homes Wildfires are increasing across the state during the summer.

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

Dangerously hot weather is expected to continue until early next week, with temperatures reaching 118F (47C) in some areas.

No deaths were reported, while 74 structures were destroyed or damaged across the state.

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

“We absolutely do not need anybody buying fireworks from the local fire stand and going out and doing something stupid,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. “Don’t be stupid, start a fire and cause more problems for us.”

Mr Honea said there had been four fires in the area in the past few weeks and warned the danger was not over yet.

“This is a bad fire season,” he said.

Fire season in California has recently begun and typically lasts until October. Fires in the state have increased in size and intensity in recent years.

The amount of area burned in summer in northern and central California increased fivefold from 1996 to 2021 compared to the 24-year period before that Scientists told Due to human-induced climate change.

This week, the National Weather Service issued excessive heat and red flag warnings — indicating hot, dry and windy weather — across the state. The agency said the “dangerous” temperatures pose a high to extreme risk of heat stress or illness.

Nearly two dozen fires across the state have burned more than 10 acres since the last week of June, according to CalFire. The largest fire, which burned 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 broke out Tuesday in Oroville, about 70 miles north of the state capital, Sacramento. The town is about 20 miles from Paradise, which was devastated by the Camp Fire in 2018 that killed 85 people. Fires have struck the area again in the years since.

CalFire spokesman Robert Foxworthy told the BBC that as of Thursday, about 28,000 people were affected by evacuation orders or warnings. The fire had spread across about 3,500 acres and was only 7% contained.

He said the fire was no longer growing because of light wind speeds, but the heat – which is forecast to reach 110F (43C) on Thursday – was the “biggest factor” impacting firefighters.

Many residents were unable to return home even two days after the fire.

Brittany Hardy, a Louisiana native who recently moved to California, told the San Francisco Chronicle When his girlfriend vacated their flat, she was not home, and she had nothing except the clothes she was wearing.

“I knew wildfires were terrible in California, but I didn’t know it would be this bad,” Hardy told the newspaper.

Oroville City Council member Shawn Weber posted a video on Facebook Wednesday that showed smoke billowing from hills on both sides of the road, but he thanked firefighters for preventing further devastation.

The California State Parks system said agencies responding to the fire “also include employees whose families have been displaced due to these evacuation operations, who are tirelessly supporting the community of Lake Oroville.”

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