An explosive California wildfire in Fresno and Madera counties grew to nearly 80,000 acres Monday morning as officials implemented mandatory evacuations and a California National Guard rescue operation saw more than 200 people airlifted to safety.
At least 20 people were reportedly injured by the so-called Creek Fire, The Weather Channel reported. “There were several critical patients,” Fresco County EMS Director Dan Lynch told KPMH. “Some with broken bones. Some with burns. Many with lacerations and abrasions.”
The California National Guard conducted a rescue operation Sunday in tandem with fire departments and law enforcement agencies from Fresno and Madera counties. California Governor’s Office spokesman Brad Alexander said two UH-60 Black Hawks and a CH-47 Chinook were called in to airlift a total of 207 people, The New York Times reported.
Creek Fire began Friday evening and grew to more than 73,000 acres over the weekend, according to Cal Fire. The wildfire has forced evacuations in Fresno and Madera counties and is currently 0% contained. (RELATED: Thousands Evacuate Homes In California Due To Wildfires — Here’s Who’s Taking Advantage)
Madera County officials reported Monday morning that the Creek Fire had spread to 78,790 and estimated that 3,000 buildings and other structures could be damaged or destroyed by the wildfire, according to KFSN.
As of 7 a.m. on Monday, 9/7, this is the current status of Madera County evacuations. At last report, the Creek Fire is 78,790 acres and 0% contained.
Please do not wait for an order. If you do not feel safe, leave.#creekfire #fire #evacuation #sheriff #maderacounty #emergency pic.twitter.com/z3HuHCNnrq
— Madera Co. Sheriff (@MaderaSheriff) September 7, 2020
California resident Lindsey Abbott was camping with her family near Whisky Falls in Madera County when the wildfire forced them to evacuate, The Weather Channel reported.
“It was so hot, you could feel the flames going through the window,” she told local news. “Seeing all the fire that had completely covered our main road, I thought, ‘Man, I don’t know what we are going to do or where we were going to go or how this is going to end’.”
Photo from the cockpit of a @CalGuard Chinook minutes ago rescuing people trapped by the #CreekFire So proud of our National Guard pilots and crews. Thoughts with those affected by this unfolding disaster. pic.twitter.com/GDV9J62MBT
— General Daniel Hokanson (@ChiefNGB) September 6, 2020
Temperatures in the area hit 117F Sunday after a record heatwave was reported in California, BBC News reported. The National Weather Service stated there could be “rare, dangerous and very possibly fatal” temperatures in southern California. (RELATED: Wildfires, Blackouts And High Gas Prices: Californians Fight Familiar Foes Amid Pandemic)
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in a proclamation Sunday. The adopted measures would allow Newsom to mobilize the state’s National Guard and direct resources to counties affected by the wildfires. California has recorded nearly 1,000 wildfires since Aug. 15 according to BBC News.