A Northern California wildfire has amplified rapidly on Thursday, due to scorching heat, and state fire officials have issued a mandatory evacuation order for several rural communities.
The devastating Butte Fire broke out east of the city of Jackson, near Butte Mountain Road. Initially it affected the Mokelumne River drainage area, from Amador County, but afterwards it crossed the river into Calaveras County.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the blaze has reduced to ashes approximately 14,700 acres of land and efforts are underway to contain the fires, but so far just 10% of the flames have been extinguished. Initially, firefighters had been relatively successful in handling the crisis when the brush fire erupted, on Wednesday afternoon.
However, the phenomenon has shown “rapid, uncontrollable fire growth”, as a result of drought, strong winds and extreme heat, and operations carried out to reduce the damage have been hampered by the rugged terrain in the area. Through the night, the 100-acre blaze expanded to 3,000 acres, and by the next afternoon, it had reached catastrophic proportions.
The triple digit temperatures have caused 8 buildings to be destroyed, and around 1,500 others are threatened with havoc. For now, officials have issued evacuation orders for communities south of Highway 88 to the Amador and Calaveras county lines, beginning at West Clinton Road, Ponderosa Way, and East Clinton Road to Ranch Road and Highway 88.
It is unclear exactly how many residents have been forced to flee their homes, as firefighters are working at maximum capacity to secure the area and tame the fire. It is however anticipated that more evacuations will be ordered by officials, as additional crews will get involved in the blaze-containing efforts.
Due the dangers associated with wildfire, Pacific Gas and Electric Company have also interrupted electrical power supply within the area, leaving thousands of people without electricity.
The Butte fire is the latest among several crushing wildfires which have ravaged the U.S. West Coast throughout the summer, as a result of severe drought and super-high temperatures.
Currently, as the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho has reported, there are dozens of wildfires affecting 6 Western states: California, Montana, Washington, Utah, Oregon and Idaho. For instance, the Rough fire (the largest conflagration affecting California at the moment) has charred more than 110,000 acres of land, causing staff and visitors at Kings Canyon National Park to be evacuated.
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