Gould called the fire an “unprecedented disaster” for Fresno County, adding that while major wildfires have occurred in the area before, the Creek Fire is the “most aggressive of any of those.”
“This one’s in a class by itself,” Gould added.
The “massive” wildfire has caused heavy structural damage and current conditions are preventing damage inspection teams from getting into the areas to survey exactly how many structures have been lost, a Cal Fire official said during the briefing.
As the fire continues to spread, blocking roads and trails, evacuations have been ordered in Madera and Fresno counties. Many people on vacation for the holiday weekend have become trapped and required aerial rescues.
Throughout the day, helicopters have been attempting to rescue those who are trapped by the fire. This remains a high priority, Fresno County Sheriff’s Deputy Lieutenant Brandon Pursell said.
According to Pursell, there are temporary areas of refuge in four different locations.
“Those people that are in those temporary areas of refuge are safe,” Pursell said. “We want the families to understand that those people are safe.”
A rescue operation was underway for about fifty people trapped by the fire near Lake Edison and China Peak late Monday night, according to tweets from Fresno Fire.
The first attempt was unsuccessful due to heavy smoke conditions, but the Chinook helicopter will make other attempts using night vision, Fresno Fire said.
Over the weekend, more than 200 people were rescued from the area as flames surrounded Lake Mammoth Reservoir.