California governor declares state of emergency as wildfires rage
California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency as wildfires raging in nearly a dozen northern California counties have burned thousands of acres and destroyed homes.
The emergency order issued on Saturday said that 17 separate blazes were burning as of this week, adding that high temperatures and recent lightning storms increase the risk for more fires.
The declaration focuses resources across the state on battling the flames and also calls for the state’s National Guard to mobilize in response to the blazes.
California is in the midst of one of its most severe droughts on record, a factor that fire officials say has contributed to the growing number and intensity of wildfires across the state this year.
Near the community of Day, a massive blaze has chewed through 12,700 acres and placed 150 homes under a mandatory evacuation notice, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire). The fire, which was caused by lightning, was only 20 percent contained as of Saturday.
Fire crews have continued to make headway against a number of blazes despite their ferocity.
Firefighters have gained ground in battling the El Portal fire burning on the western edge of Yosemite National Park and an adjacent national forest. That blaze started late last month, charring nearly 4,700 acres and forcing the evacuation of several dozen homes.
As of Saturday night, that blaze was 89 percent contained, according to the National Park Service.
About 180 miles northwest of the El Portal blaze, firefighters had completely contained as of Saturday night the so-called Sand Fire, which erupted in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento in July scorching more than 4,200 acres, CalFire said.
Progress against that blaze came despite a brief disruption caused by a small drone aircraft operated in the area by a private hobbyist seeking to film the fire, authorities said.