California Wildfire: 1 Killed, Thousands Forced To Flee; Extensive Damage To Property

California Wildfire: 1 Killed, Thousands Forced To Flee; Extensive Damage To Property
Wildfire in the Pacific Northwest Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Wildfires burning across wide areas of California have engulfed several homes and forced many people to escape. Two of these wildfires have been recorded as the biggest in the state’s history.


While one person was reported dead Monday as a result of the fires, several others are still “unaccounted for,” according to Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services.

USA Today reports that two fires in the state capital Sacramento had spread to several counties and consumed in excess of 500 homes. As many as 23,000 people have been forced to flee. State officials said that 11,000 firefighters and rescue crew personnel have been deployed to contain the fire. “These communities still are in an active firefight,” Ghilarducci said.

One of the fires called Valley Fire has spread across 95 square miles. Raging across north of San Francisco, it has caused destruction to 400 homes. Almost 13,000 people have been forced to escape the fire. Additionally, 1,000 structures have been destroyed. The fire, which broke out Saturday, had rapidly spread and expanded to several areas early Monday. It had been contained zero percent.

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On Saturday, a 72-year-old woman perished as result of the fire. It was the first fatality of this fire season. Medical help and officers were unable to reach the victim’s subdivision on time, despite a call for help had come in. The woman, identified by her family as Barbara McWilliams, “was a retired teacher and true adventurer who enjoyed traveling the world,” as reported by NBC News. The statement issued by her family further said, “Within the last year, she had settled in Middletown, California, and had fallen in love with her new home and community.”

The Brute Fire started in Amador County last week, and had spread to at least 71,000 acres across two counties, according to State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman, Daniel Berlant. The fire had only been 30% contained. The Rough Fire had been raging in Fresno County for a month, and had consumed 138,000 acres of land. It had been 40% contained.

California Gov. Jerry Brown said, “We are really in a battle with nature, that nature is more powerful than we are.” A state of emergency in Lake and Napa counties has been issued. The California National Guard had been called and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was requested for funding, as reported by Fox News.

Also read: Alaska Wildfire Spreads To 6,500 Acres, Causes Damage And Forces Evacuation

Ron Clark, and his mother, Carol, were among the several people forced to flee their home.

“The pines were exploding. The flames were close to the highway, and they were huge,” Clark said, as reported by San Francisco Chronicle. “It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. By then, it was get out or get burned. If we hadn’t left when we did, this story wouldn’t be told.”

Michael Alan Patrick’s house was destroyed by the fire. When the fire started, he was sitting in a park.

“It was like looking through a tunnel. You could see the flames coming,” he said. “There was this big old pine tree, it lit up and it went whoosh and it was gone.”

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