Creek Fire forces evacuation of entire town in central California

California
Two men take out their belongings on wheel barrows during a mandatory evacuation due to the Creek Fire Sept. 7, 2020, in Auberry, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Two men take out their belongings on wheel barrows during a mandatory evacuation due to the Creek Fire Sept. 7, 2020, in Auberry, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Authorities issued evacuation orders Monday for the entire town of Auberry, a mountain community of 2,500 in central California, as the Creek Fire continued to burn out of control. The Creek Fire has grown to nearly 80,000 acres in size and is 0% contained.

An evacuation order means there is an immediate threat to life. Officials said evacuation centers have been opened in Fresno and Oakhurst.

Evacuation orders were also issued for additional portions of Madera and Fresno counties, including the communities of Big Creek, Huntington Lake, Shaver Lake and Cascadel Woods.

The fire is burning on both sides of the San Joaquin River near the Mammoth Pool Reservoir and Shaver Lake.

“Any community currently in danger has had an evacuation advisory issued. However, the fire is moving fast. Have a plan and be ready to leave ahead of an order if you feel unsafe,” the Madera County Sheriff’s Department added in a tweet.

The orders come as wildfires continue ravaging the state of California — one of which began with a botched gender reveal — destroying homes and leading thousands to evacuate their communities. There are currently 76 active wildfires burning in the United States, 22 of which are in California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Sunday in five counties as multiple wildfires continue to burn across the state.

The state of emergency applies to Fresno, Madera and Mariposa counties where the Creek Fire is burning, and San Bernardino and San Diego counties where the El Dorado Fire and Valley Fire, respectively, are raging, a statement from the state’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) said Sunday night.

On top of the state emergency and evacuation orders, electrical companies are also considering shutting down power.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced Monday that about 172,000 customers across 22 counties in Northern California could have their power shut off starting Monday night to prevent electrical equipment from sparking a wildfire, PG&E Incident Commander Mark Quinlan said during the briefing.

Full restoration of power is expected by Wednesday evening.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy in 2019 after billions of dollars in claims were filed against the company linking it to 2018 wildfires across Northern California.

A red flag warning has been called by the National Weather Service from Monday night through Wednesday morning, according to PG&E senior meteorologist Scott Strenfel. Peak wind gusts of up to 50 mph are expected for many elevated areas in Northern California.

“Unfortunately, this wind event is occurring on the heels of the current heat wave and will produce critical fire potential conditions,” Strenfel said.

Tens of thousands of acres have been burned by the three fires, which have also destroyed homes and caused thousands of residents to evacuate, according to the Cal OES statement.

The number of wildfires across the US this year remains below the 10-year average for the same period, the National Interagency Fire Center said.

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