A deadly wildfire raged through Northern California on Friday, forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes and killing two people working to contain the blaze.
The fire is "taking everything down in its path," said Scott McLean, a spokesman for some of the crews battling the fires in the area.
The inferno — named the Carr Fire — reached the town of Redding on Thursday night, which is home to more than 90,000 people. The fire has scorched upwards of 44,000 acres of land, the state’s forestry and fire protection department (Cal Fire) said, and has killed two people — a private bulldozer operator working to contain the fire, and a firefighter.
"Firefighters continue to work aggressively to build containment lines around the Carr Fire," the department said in a statement Thursday night. "Their efforts have been hampered today due to extreme fire behavior and unfavorable weather conditions."
According to a statement Friday morning, the fire is currently only three percent contained. Scott Kenney, a captain with Cal Fire, told VOA that high temperatures and the rough, steep terrain of the area have made it difficult for firefighters to corral the blaze. Temperatures are currently forecast to reach 44.4 degrees Celsius on Friday, according to the Weather Underground.
Kenney told VOA that 496 homes are currently threatened by the Carr Fire, while 15 have already been destroyed. Three firefighters also have been injured fighting the fire.
Similar fires have wracked the nation in recent weeks. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, a U.S. government agency dedicated to coordinating federal response to fires, there are 89 active “large fires” currently raging throughout the country. Five of those are in California alone, according to the agency.
In Northern California, the Ferguson Fire is currently near the iconic Yosemite National Park, forcing officials to evacuate the park on Wednesday. In the southern part of the state, the Cranston Fire — believed to be caused by arson — forced some 12,000 residents of the town of Idyllwild to evacuate. Authorities have arrested a suspect in the fire.
Governor Jerry Brown has declared states of emergency for areas on both ends of the state.
Fern Robinson contributed.