California wildfires displaces thousands, warnings issued
The fires raging across California have turned deadly, claiming the first casualty as thousands of firefighters battled to contain 23 major complex blazes across the state.
According to officials, a helicopter pilot who was battling one of the state’s smaller fires in central California has died when the craft crashed.
In Vacaville, residents were urged to evacuate during the night as the wind-whipped flames swallowed dozens of homes.
Many were awakened by neighbours or firefighters desperately banging on their doors. Several suffered burns as they ran for their lives.
Evacuation warnings were also issued in other counties where fires sparked by lightning are raging unchecked amid a sweltering heatwave.
Cal Fire officials said the series of fires in that region had destroyed 50 homes, burned through nearly 50,000 acres and were zero per cent contained by early Wednesday evening.
In Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties a series of fires called the CZU Lightning Complex forced the shutdown of portions of the iconic coastal Highway 1 as flames came close to the road.
Officials said the region’s rugged terrain and dry vegetation were making it difficult to combat the blaze.
Governor Gavin Newsom, who has declared a state of emergency to facilitate the release of emergency funds, said the wildfires had been caused by thousands of lightning strikes in recent days in the Bay Area.
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