Thousands flee expanding wildfire

High temperatures, dry weather has contributed to thousands of wildfires in California

September 13, 2015

The Rough Fire in the Sierra Nevada, burning since July 31 is still expanding.
Credit: National Fire Service

More than 6,000 residents of foothill communities in California's Amador and Calaveras Counties fled their homes Friday as the Butte fire consumed more than 65,000 acres. The fire started Wednesday and was just 15 per cent contained by Saturday.

As the fire expanded, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in both counties.

Further south, the Rough fire, burning in the Sierra Nevada expanded to nearly 120,000 acres and is threatening the Sequoia forests.The largest wildfire in California continued to grow prompting additional evacuations amid warnings of an "extreme fire behavior."

Burning since July 31, the so-called Rough fire, is consuming timber in a rugged part of the mountains. Nearly 2,000 firefighters are trying to extinguish the fire.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office said it was ordering new evacuation notices Tuesday for residents living in or near Dunlap, Crabtree and Cherry Gap.

Heavy smoke has limited the use of aerial tankers and the smoke combined with threat of the unpredictable nature of the blaze has closed campgrounds and forced evacuation of cabins in the Sequoia National Forest.

More than 5,000 wildfires have been reported since the beginning of the year, burning more than 150,000 acres. This year's total area burned is approaching twice the average of the last five years and nearly 100,000 acres more than last year at the same time, according the CAL FIRE.

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