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Thousands evacuated from California wildfires

Thousands evacuated from California wildfires

Baku, July 6, AZERTAC

Tens of thousands of people in northern California have been allowed to return to their homes after evacuating as wildfires spread in the region during a heatwave, according to BBC News.

Approximately 16,000 people were under evacuation orders and warnings when the Thompson Fire broke out on Tuesday, according to Megan McMann, spokesperson for Butte County Sheriff’s Office, although originally 28,000 was reported by officials.

All evacuations were lifted by 18:00 local time on Thursday (02:00 BST Friday), she said, but hours earlier, new orders were put in place elsewhere in the state.

Dangerously hot weather is expected to continue with temperatures of 118F (47C) forecast in some areas, feeding the state's 3,000-plus burning wildfires.

The heatwave - expected to last until early next week - has cast uncertainty on efforts to contain multiple wildfires.

No one has died, while 74 structures across the state have been destroyed or damaged from fires this season.

The Thompson Fire, which began on Tuesday, was finally contained by Friday morning, a welcome sign of progress for the crew of nearly 2,000 responders that battled the flames.

At least four people were injured, according to CalFire, although the extent of their injuries is unknown.

Roughly 241 miles (387km) south of the Thompson Fire, the French Fire emerged on Thursday evening, forcing evacuations and road closures in Mariposa County.

Local news reported deputies going door-to-door to notify residents of evacuation orders, as patients at a local hospital were told to shelter in place.

The French Fire continued to spread on Friday, with the latest update showing 15% containment and more than 900 acres burned.

As of Friday morning local time, nearly 12,000 individuals were under evacuation orders or warnings statewide, according to the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

The fire had threatened to overtake the city of Mariposa, a tourist spot popular with visitors to Yosemite National Park.

“It just took off so quick,” Jaime Williams, a spokeswoman for Cal Fire’s Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit, told The Mercury News.

“We were fighting to save our community. The crews worked really hard throughout the night. They were able to hold it.”

The city of Oroville, near where the Thompson fire started, cancelled its Independence Day fireworks, and warned residents to avoid using them and risking another blaze.

“The last thing we need is somebody who’s purchased fireworks from a local fire stand going out and doing something stupid,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. “Don’t be an idiot, cause a fire and create more problems for us.”

Mr Honea said the area had seen four fires within the last couple of weeks and cautioned that danger was far from over.

“This is a bad fire season," he added.

Meanwhile, a man has been accused of sparking a fire that triggered evacuations in the Clear Lake area earlier this month.

The man is faces charges related to negligent fire starts. Officials say he was operating a landscaping machine in extreme heat, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Fire season started recently in California and usually runs until October. The size and intensity of fires in the state have grown in recent years.

The amount of burned areas in the summer in northern and central California increased five times from 1996 to 2021 compared to the 24 year period before, which scientists attributed to human-caused climate change.

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