Helicopter rescues continue in California as at least 22 fires rage
Survivors of California's massive wildfires were rescued by helicopter Tuesday morning in Sierra National Forest, CNN reports.
At least 13 visitors who were trapped by the swiftly-spreading Creek Fire were rescued overnight from the forest by helicopter and more than 200 other people were airlifted from the forest to safety over the weekend.
Officials say the Creek Fire burned 135,523 acres in the Sierra Nevada Mountains northeast of Fresno and led to the evacuations of Madera and Fresno counties.
The fire was labeled an "unprecedented disaster" for Fresno County, US Forest Service Supervisor Dean Gould said Monday, adding that while major wildfires have occurred in the area before, this fire is the "most aggressive of any of those."
At least 22 large fires are raging in California, where dry, windy conditions and record-breaking high temperatures have been fueling flames for weeks in some areas.
While firefighters battle the flames and rescue people from dangerous areas, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has intentionally cut power in 22 Northern California counties to lessen the chance that any electric equipment damaged by winds would cause more fire. About 172,000 PG&E customers were impacted Monday night, and full restoration was expected by Wednesday evening.
There are currently 76 large wildfires burning across the United States, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, and California has been the hardest hit state. More than 4.6 million acres have been burned nationwide, with more than 2.09 million of these burning in California, Cal Fire has said.
Current weather conditions in the state will mean high fire risks. As of Tuesday morning, areas covering more than 38 million people in six Western states were under red flag warnings, which caution that conditions likely to start or spread fires -- strong winds and dry conditions -- were either imminent or happening.
Peak wind gusts of up to 50 mph are anticipated for many elevated areas in Northern California, which are expected to exacerbate an already active fire season in the state as hot and dry weather will continue to dry out vegetation and make it more susceptible to fires during a wind event.
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