California wildfires are so severe that thousands of people are forced to flee. Two dozens of homes were burned down and firefighter crews continue to deal with the flames. On Thursday a firefighter from South Dakota, Engine Capt. David Ruhl, was killed.
This represents the fourth year of historic drought. On Saturday 21 major wildfires hit the state and 8.000 firefighters were needed to take care of the situation. According to Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire spokesman, the fire are enhanced and rapidly spread by bone-dry conditions.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection the Rocky Fire which started west of Sacramento swelled 18.000 acres on Friday evening and reached up to 27.000 on Saturday. Besides the 24 houses which were already destroyed, over 6.100 structures are under threat. Areas which are close to the blaze that started on Wednesday underwent mandatory evacuations. In addition on Saturday as the fire in Lake and Yolo countries grew a highway was closed down.
David Ruhl, the firefighter who died, was dealing with a blaze in the Modoc National Forest on Thursday nearly 100 miles south of Oregon. According to Ken Sandusky, fire information officer, on Thursday, as Rhul was looking for a way to fight the flames officials lost contact with him. His body was recovered on Friday. The man was part of a Black Hills National Forest firefighting team and had started fighting California wildfires in June.
By Saturday the fire had grown to nearly three acres and five percent of it was contained. On Friday Gov. Jerry Brown declared state of emergency. According to Berland the firefighters’ efforts were joined by the National Guard that came with two C-130 air tanks and helicopters.
Berland also said that the thunderstorms which light the fires are expected to continue through Sunday. He explained that because of mountain thunderstorms rain will come and dry lightning strikes could spark fires.
Division chief from Cal Fire, Nick Schuler, commented on the recent incidents:
The conditions and fire behavior we’re seeing at 10 in the morning is typically what we’d see in late afternoon in late August and September. But because of the dry conditions, because of the drought-stricken vegetation accompanied by the steep terrain and winds, we’re seeing fire activity that’s abnormal for this time of year.”
Image Source: The Guardian