Fast-moving California wildfire causes thousands to evacuate

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A fast-moving fire in northern California had scorched about 4,000 acres (1,620 hectares) of land by Saturday morning and prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents, some of whom were also injured.

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The blaze, called Mill Fire, started Friday about 370 miles north of Sacramento. As of Saturday morning, it was about 20% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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About 100 homes and buildings were reportedly destroyed by the blaze, authorities said.

A burnt out car stands amid debris following the mill fire, in Weed, California, September 3, 2022. Photo by Fred Greaves /Reuters

California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency for Siskiyou County. The emergency declaration will help residents access federal assistance and unlock state resources.

Newsom’s office said the fire caused civilian injuries and power outages, destroyed homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate. Local officials said people should plan « at least several days » to stay away from evacuated areas.

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Siskiyou County, home to Klamath National Forest, has a population of about 44,000, according to the US Census Bureau.

Kim Greene, mayor of the small town of Weed in Siskiyou County, told the Los Angeles Times that the fire started at a sawmill.

Videos posted to Twitter by local media and journalists showed the fire destroying an industrial building in Weed, burning woodland and spreading through residential areas.

Another fire called Mountain Fire was also spreading simultaneously in Gazelle, located 16 km northwest of Weed. As of Saturday morning, that fire was only 5% contained and had burned about 3,400 acres (1,375 hectares) of land.

More than two decades of drought and rising temperatures, exacerbated by climate change, have made California more vulnerable than ever to wildfires. The two most devastating years on record were in 2020 and 2021, based on the number of acres burned.


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