Thousands have been told to flee California wildfires

Thousands have been told to flee California wildfires

Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate as wildfires burn out of control in Northern California. The region is experiencing a "very dangerous" heat wave that worsens conditions.

Over 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) of grass and forest have been scorched since Tuesday when a fire broke out outside Oroville. Authorities have asked 13,000 people to leave the area.

The town, located near the state capital, Sacramento, is just 23 miles (38 kilometers) from Paradise, a community devastated by the deadliest fire in the state's history in 2018, in which 85 people died.

Butte County Fire Chief Garrett Sgolund said the area is under a "red flag warning."

"The conditions in our province this summer are very different from what we experienced the past two summers," he told reporters.

"The fuel is very dense. The brush is dry; as you can see, any wind will extinguish the fire very quickly."

Climate scientists say the western United States is experiencing a decades-long drought as weather patterns change, at least in part due to human-caused global warming.

California has suffered from drought for about 20 years, but the last two years have been relatively mild. Near-record rainfall filled reservoirs and sparked furious growth in forests and grasslands.

However, 2024 will be a hot and dry year. Vegetation is drying out quickly, creating plenty of fuel for wildfires, a natural part of the ecosystem's cycle.

These conditions have left officials warning of the potential for devastating fires, especially if people are careless with fireworks during the Fourth of July Independence Day holiday.

"We've had four fires in the last two weeks," Butte County Sheriff Corey Honea said. "This is a bad fire season."

"The last thing we need is someone buying fireworks from a local fire stand to go out and do something stupid. Don't be a fool."

On Wednesday, about 400 firefighters battled the flames on the ground with heavy machinery and in the air by planes and helicopters.

Equipment and personnel are arriving from other jurisdictions to bolster operations, Sjöllund said.

The National Weather Service warned that temperatures will remain very high, reaching 115 F (46 C) in some areas over the coming days.

"There is a very dangerous situation going on right now as we enter a deadly, historic, and long-lasting hot event," the service wrote on social media.

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