Sunday, October 2, 2022

California wildfires prompt evacuations amid heat wave

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CASTAIC: California wildfires erupted Wednesday in rural areas, racing through bone-dry brush and prompting evacuations as the state sweltered under a heat wave that could last through Labor Day.
The Route Fire in Castaic in northwestern Los Angeles County raged through about 4,625 acres (1,872 hectares) of hills containing scattered houses. Interstate 5, a major north-south route, was closed by a blaze that burned several hundred acres in only a few hours.
Media reports showed a wall of flames advancing uphill and smoke billowing thousands of feet into the air while planes dumped water from nearby Castaic Lake. A mobile home park with 94 residences was evacuated, and seven firefighters were treated for heat-related problems, authorities said.
The fire was moving erratically, and more resources were called in, including air tankers, the LA County Fire Department tweeted. An elementary school also was evacuated. Temperatures in the area hit 107 degrees (42 Celsius) and winds gusted to 17 mph (27 kph), forecasters said.
Another fire burned at least four buildings, including a home, and prompted evacuations in the Dulzura area in eastern San Diego County near the Mexican border. It swiftly grew to more than 1,400 acres (567 hectares) and prompted evacuation orders for at least 400 homes, authorities said.
State Route 94 was closed.
No injuries were immediately reported, but there were “multiple close calls” as residents rushed to flee, said Capt. Thomas Shoots with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“We had multiple 911 calls from folks unable to evacuate” because their homes were surrounded by the fire, Shoots told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The National Weather Service said many valleys, foothills, mountains and desert areas of the state remained under an elevated fire risk because of low humidity and high temperatures, which set several records for the day. The hottest days were expected to be Sunday and Monday.
Wildfires have sprung up this summer throughout the Western states. The largest and deadliest blaze in California this year erupted in late July in Siskyou County, near the Oregon state line. It killed four people and destroyed much of the small community of Klamath River.
Scientists have said climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. Across the American West, a 22-year megadrought deepened so much in 2021 that the region is now in the driest spell in at least 1,200 years.




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