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California wildfires have burned more than 2 million acres and prompted power outages for more than 170,000

 


At least 22 large fires areburning in California, where dry, windy conditions and record-breaking hightemperatures have been fueling flames for weeks in some areas.

While firefighters continue to battle the flames and rescue people from dangerous areas, other agencies are proactively closing national forests and temporary power shut-offs have been ordered to prevent future blazes.

A public safety power shutoff is in effect for 22 counties in Northern California, with 172,000 Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) customers impacted Monday night. Full restoration of power is expected by Wednesday evening.

There are currently 76 large wildfires burning across the United States, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, but California has remained the hardest hit state. Of the more than 5,500,000 acres that have been burned nationwide so far this year, California accounts for more than 2,000,000 acres scorched, NIFC said.

A red flag warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for Ventura and Los Angeles counties through Wednesday morning.

Peak wind gusts of up to 50 mph are expected for many elevated areas in Northern California, which only exacerbates an already active fire season in the state as hot and dry weather will continue to dry out vegetation and make it more susceptible to fires during a wind event, PG&E Senior Meteorologist Scott Strenfel explained.

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

"Windy conditions, like those being forecast, increase the potential for damage and hazards to the electric infrastructure, which could cause sparks if lines are energized. These conditions also increase the potential for rapid fire spread," PG&E said in a news release on Monday.

The fast moving Creek Fire in the Sierra National Forest has grown to 135,523 acres and has no containment, US Forest Service Supervisor Dean Gould said during a Monday night press briefing.

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.

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