Thou­sands flee wild­fires in Cal­i­for­nia

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

OROVILLE, Cal­i­for­nia — Wild­fires bar­reled across the bak­ing land­scape of the western United States and Canada, forc­ing thou­sands of res­i­dents to flee and de­stroy­ing homes.

In Cal­i­for­nia, two ma­jor wild­fires have forced nearly 8,000 peo­ple out of their homes.

About 4,000 peo­ple evac­u­ated and an­other 7,400 were told to pre­pare to leave their homes as fire swept through grassy foothills in the Sierra Ne­vada, about 100 kilo­me­ters north of Sacra­mento, the Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion said on Sun­day.

The fire has burned nearly 11 sq km, in­jured four fire­fight­ers and de­stroyed at least 10 struc­tures, but that num­ber is ex­pected to rise, fire spokes­woman Mary Ann Aldrich said.

The area burn­ing was south­east of Oroville, where spill­ways in the na­tion’s tallest dam be­gan crum­bling from heavy rains this win­ter and led to tem­po­rary evac­u­a­tion or­ders for 200,000 res­i­dents down­stream.

“It leaves you feel­ing like you can’t catch a break,” said Sharon Rei­tan, who sought shel­ter at an evac­u­a­tion cen­ter with her boyfriend Sun­day night.

They were in Oroville on Fri­day when the fire broke out and roads to their hill­side home were blocked. They later saw pho­to­graphs of their home burned to the ground.

“The road that we live on was hit hard,” Rei­tan said. “We’re in shut down mode right now, it’s so dev­as­tat­ing.”

The fire was 20 per­cent con­tained. It was one of 14 wild­fires across the states that about 5,000 fire­fight­ers bat­tled on Sun­day.

Amayah Madere told KCBSTV she was in the pool when a coun­selor told the chil­dren to get out and change in a hurry. She said they waited in a din­ing hall while fire­fight­ers fought the fire and the coun­selors sprayed down the area with wa­ter.

“I prayed that if I didn’t die I would go to church, and right when I prayed the fire­fight­ers came,” Madere said.

Mean­while, as western Canada’s Bri­tish Columbia bat­tled 220 wild­fires scat­tered across the prov­ince on Sun­day, of­fi­cials warned that they ex­pect greater dev­asta- tion with fore­casts of more hot, dry weather over the com­ing week.

“Look­ing at the med­ley of fore­casts out there, it’s cer­tainly not op­ti­mistic,” Bri­tish Columbia’s chief fire spokesman Kevin Skrep­nek said. “We are go­ing to be at the mercy of the weather.”

Fire­fight­ers were con­tend­ing with more than 200 wild­fires burn­ing in the prov­ince that had de­stroyed dozens of build­ings, in­clud­ing sev­eral homes and two air­port hangars. The three big­gest fires had forced thou­sands of peo­ple to flee.

“We are just, in many ways, at the be­gin­ning of the worst part of the fire sea­son and we watch the weather, we watch the wind, and we pray for rain,” out­go­ing Premier Christy Clark told re­porters in Kam­loops.

bat­tled the wild­fires in Cal­i­for­nia on Sun­day.

JOSH EDELSON / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mo­torists drive past flames from the “Wall Fire” along Forbestown Road in Oroville, Cal­i­for­nia on Satur­day. The first ma­jor wild­fires af­ter the end of Cal­i­for­nia's five-year drought raged across the state.

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