Crews fight growing California wildfires, including one caused by pyrotechnic gender reveal

A helicopter prepares to drop water at a wildfire in Yucaipa, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. Three fast-spreading California wildfires sent people fleeing Saturday, with one trapping campers at a reservoir in the Sierra National Forest, as a brutal heat wave pushed temperatures into triple digits in many parts of state. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)A helicopter prepares to drop water at a wildfire in Yucaipa, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. Three fast-spreading California wildfires sent people fleeing Saturday, with one trapping campers at a reservoir in the Sierra National Forest, as a brutal heat wave pushed temperatures into triple digits in many parts of state. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
In this Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, photo released by the California National Guard, shows the view from a Cal Guard Chinook helicopter last night rescuing people trapped after the Creek Fire in central California left them stranded. More than 200 people were airlifted to safety after a fast-moving wildfire trapped them in a popular camping area in California’s Sierra National Forest. The California Office of Emergency Services said Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters were used for the rescues that began Saturday night and continued overnight. (California National Guard via AP)In this Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, photo released by the California National Guard, shows the view from a Cal Guard Chinook helicopter last night rescuing people trapped after the Creek Fire in central California left them stranded. More than 200 people were airlifted to safety after a fast-moving wildfire trapped them in a popular camping area in California’s Sierra National Forest. The California Office of Emergency Services said Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters were used for the rescues that began Saturday night and continued overnight. (California National Guard via AP)
A family from Ventura County watches, from the shore of Shaver Lake, the billowing smoke from the Creek Fire, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, northeast of Fresno, Calif. (Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee via AP)A family from Ventura County watches, from the shore of Shaver Lake, the billowing smoke from the Creek Fire, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, northeast of Fresno, Calif. (Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee via AP)
Plumes of smoke rise into the sky as a wildfire burns on the hills near Shaver Lake, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. Fires in the Sierra National Forest have prompted evacuation orders as authorities urged people seeking relief from the Labor Day weekend heat wave to stay away from the popular lake. (Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee via AP)Plumes of smoke rise into the sky as a wildfire burns on the hills near Shaver Lake, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. Fires in the Sierra National Forest have prompted evacuation orders as authorities urged people seeking relief from the Labor Day weekend heat wave to stay away from the popular lake. (Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee via AP)
A plume of smoke from the El Dorado Fire is seen from the Interstate 10 in Loma Linda, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. In Southern California, a fast-moving fire in the foothills of Yucaipa has prompted evacuation orders for Oak Glen, a farm community that just opened its apple-picking season to the public. Cal Fire’s San Bernardino unit said the fire has scorched at least 800 acres and was burning at a “moderate to dangerous” rate of spread. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)A plume of smoke from the El Dorado Fire is seen from the Interstate 10 in Loma Linda, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. In Southern California, a fast-moving fire in the foothills of Yucaipa has prompted evacuation orders for Oak Glen, a farm community that just opened its apple-picking season to the public. Cal Fire’s San Bernardino unit said the fire has scorched at least 800 acres and was burning at a “moderate to dangerous” rate of spread. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
A plume of smoke from the El Dorado fire is seen from the Interstate 10 in Loma Linda, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. In Southern California, a fast-moving fire in the foothills of Yucaipa has prompted evacuation orders for Oak Glen, a farm community that just opened its apple-picking season to the public. Cal Fire’s San Bernardino unit said the fire has scorched at least 800 acres and was burning at a “moderate to dangerous” rate of spread. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)A plume of smoke from the El Dorado fire is seen from the Interstate 10 in Loma Linda, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. In Southern California, a fast-moving fire in the foothills of Yucaipa has prompted evacuation orders for Oak Glen, a farm community that just opened its apple-picking season to the public. Cal Fire’s San Bernardino unit said the fire has scorched at least 800 acres and was burning at a “moderate to dangerous” rate of spread. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Evacuation orders were expanded Monday to more mountain communities as a huge wildfire churned through California’s Sierra National Forest, one of dozens of blazes crews battled during a heat wave that shattered records across the state.

Firefighters working in steep terrain through the night saved the tiny town of Shaver Lake from flames that roared down hillsides toward a marina. To the north, about 30 houses were destroyed in the remote hamlet of Big Creek.

“About half the private homes in town burned down,” Big Creek resident Toby Wait said. “Words cannot even begin to describe the devastation of this community. And it is a very close-knit community.”

An elementary school, church, library, historic general store and a major hydroelectric plant were spared in the community of about 200 residents, Wait told the Fresno Bee.

Sheriff’s deputies went door to door to make sure residents were complying with orders to leave. Officials hoped to keep the fire from pushing west into rural towns along State Route 41 and possibly Yosemite National Park.

The blaze dubbed the Creek Fire has charred more than 114 square miles (295 square kilometres) of timber after breaking out Friday. The 850 firefighters on the scene had yet to get any containment after three days of work in sweltering heat. There was no official tabulation yet of structures lost.

On Saturday, rescuers in military helicopters airlifted 207 people to safety after flames trapped them in a wooded camping area near Mammoth Pool Reservoir northeast of Fresno.

In Southern California, crews scrambled to douse several fires that roared to life in searing temperatures, including one that closed mountain roads in Angeles National Forest. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said a blaze in San Bernardino County called the El Dorado Fire started Saturday morning and was caused by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used by a couple to reveal their baby’s gender.

A fire in the Angeles National Forest northeast of Los Angeles forced the evacuation of Mount Wilson Observatory.

In eastern San Diego County, the Valley Fire broke had destroyed at least 10 structures after burning 16 square miles (41.44 square kilometres) and prompting evacuations near the remote community of Alpine in the Cleveland National Forest.

ALSO READ: Doctor Creek wildfire in the East Kootenay grows to estimated 79 square kilometres

Daytime temperatures in fire zones neared or exceeded triple digits. Downtown Los Angeles reached 111 degrees (44 Celsius) on Sunday and a record-shattering high of 121 degrees (49.4 Celsius) was recorded in the nearby Woodland Hills neighbourhood of the San Fernando Valley. It was the highest temperature ever recorded in Los Angeles County, according to the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, downtown San Francisco set a record for the day with a high of 100 (37.7 Celsius) on Sunday, smashing the previous mark by 5 degrees.

The exceptionally hot temperatures were driving the highest power use of the year, and transmission losses because of wildfires have cut into supplies. The California Independent System Operator that manages the state’s power grid warned that up to 3 million people could lose power Sunday if the if residents didn’t curtail their electricity usage.

About 7 p.m., the agency declared an emergency and said power outages were imminent because a transmission line carrying power from Oregon to California and another in-state power plant went offline unexpectedly. But about 8:30 p.m., the agency issued a tweet calling off the emergency “thanks to conservation of Californians!.” It said no power outages were ordered.

The weather forecast called for more heat Monday and the grid operators again urged people to conserve power between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.. when usage is highest. Cooler temperatures were expected Tuesday but the weather change also was expected to bring winds that could fan wildfires.

Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility serving customers in Central and Northern California, warned customers that it might cut power starting Tuesday because of the increased fire danger. Some of the state’s largest and deadliest fires in recent years have been sparked by downed power lines and other utility equipment. All of Northern California has moderate to severe drought conditions.

Cal Fire said 14,800 firefighters were battling 23 major fires in the state. California has seen 900 wildfires since Aug. 15, many of them started by an intense series of thousands of lightning strikes. The blazes have burned more than 1.5 million acres (2,343 square miles). There have been eight fire deaths and more than 3,300 structures destroyed.

___

Weber reported from Los Angeles.

Marcio Jose Sanchez And Christopher Weber, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CaliforniaWildfires

Just Posted

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Gorge skull fragment could bring closure to one Greater Victoria missing person case

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Victoria police worked to arrest as many people with active warrants as possible during #VicPDWarrantWednesday May 12. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria policemake over 20 arrests during #VicPDWarrantWednesday

Officers were working to locate people with active arrest warrants

Patrick OLeary won $1 million in the March 24 draw of the Lotto 6/49. (BCLC image)
Sooke man cashes $1-million lottery ticket

The excavator operator had to look twice to confirm the win

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old Nanaimo bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read