Friday 28 April 2017

Over 82,000 people evacuated as wildfires rip through southern California

A firefighter monitors the Blue Cut fire along Highway 138, near the Cajon Pass Credit: Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
A firefighter monitors the Blue Cut fire along Highway 138, near the Cajon Pass Credit: Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
An air tanker drops fire retardant on the Blue Cut wildfire in Lytle Creek, California, August 16, 2016.
People watch the so-called Blue Cut wildfire in Lytle Creek, California, August 16, 2016
A dog is seen near the Blue Cut wildfire in Lytle Creek, California, August 16, 2016
A firefighter with the Elk Mountain Hotshots cuts down a tree destroyed in the Clayton Fire in Lower Lake, California, August 16, 2016
Resident Wade Holley rests his hand on his car destroyed in the Clayton Fire at the Clearlake machine shop in Lower Lake, California, August 16, 2016

Authorities in southern California ordered the evacuation of 82,000 people on Tuesday, after a wildfire broke out in a mountain pass and rapidly engulfed 9,000 acres (3,642 hectares), an official said.

Officials said 700 firefighters were battling the blaze in an area called the Cajon Pass, the latest in a series of wildfires that have blackened nearly 300,000 acres (121,400 hectares) of the drought-parched US West.

People watch the so-called Blue Cut wildfire in Lytle Creek, California, August 16, 2016
People watch the so-called Blue Cut wildfire in Lytle Creek, California, August 16, 2016

"It is a very fast-moving fire, it has wind behind it," said US Forest Service spokeswoman Lyn Sieliet.

The so-called Bluecut Fire erupted in heavy brush just west of Interstate 15, the main freeway between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area, forcing the closure of one stretch of the highway.

The blaze prompted the orders for residents of the community of Wrightwood, about 75 miles (120 km) east of Los Angeles, to leave their homes, said Lynne Tolmachoff, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

In all, about 82,000 people were ordered to flee, as flames destroyed an unknown number of houses, the Cal Fire spokeswoman said by telephone.

A firefighter with the Elk Mountain Hotshots cuts down a tree destroyed in the Clayton Fire in Lower Lake, California, August 16, 2016
A firefighter with the Elk Mountain Hotshots cuts down a tree destroyed in the Clayton Fire in Lower Lake, California, August 16, 2016

The Bluecut Fire, whose cause officials said they were still investigating, came as crews more than 600 miles (970 km) to the northwest began to make headway against a Northern California wildfire that has destroyed more than 175 homes and businesses.

The so-called Clayton Fire was 35 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. It has charred 4,000 acres (1,620 hectares) in and around the community of Lower Lake, forcing hundreds of people to flee.

Damin Pashilk, a 40-year-old arrested on suspicion of setting that blaze, and several others in the area over the past year, is set to appear in court on Wednesday.

Fierce winds fanned the fire, which threatened about 1,500 structures at its peak, after it sparked on Saturday evening. As of Tuesday evening, only 380 buildings were in danger, according to Cal Fire. There were no reports of casualties.

An air tanker drops fire retardant on the Blue Cut wildfire in Lytle Creek, California, August 16, 2016.
An air tanker drops fire retardant on the Blue Cut wildfire in Lytle Creek, California, August 16, 2016.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in San Bernardino County for the Bluecut Fire, which allows state agencies to come to the assistance of local officials. On Monday, Brown issued emergency declarations for the Clayton fire and another in Central California, the so-called Chimney fire.

Online Editors

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News