Evacuations ordered in California desert communities as wildfires burn

Homes burned as winds push California fire into desert floor

The name of the firefighter killed in the nearby El Dorado Fire was being withheld until family members were notified.

The wind whips embers from the Joshua trees burning in the Bobcat Fire in Juniper Hills, Calif., Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

"Our deepest sympathies are with the family, friends and fellow firefighters during this time", it continued.

4 houses have been burned to ashes.

Several small towns have largely been incinerated, with thousands of buildings destroyed and at least 35 lives lost: Twenty-six in California, including the firefighter - eight in OR, and one in Washington state.

However, the criminal charges would not be filed until the fire gets extinguished.

Officials said the fire had been challenging because it was burning in areas that had not burned in decades and because the firestorms across California have limited resources.

More than 17,000 firefighters are battling more than two dozen major wildfires in California.

The fire that started September 6, has now churned through more than 112 square miles (290 square kilometers) - doubling in size over the last week. Each day, our nation's courageous firefighters and first responders risk their lives to protect our communities.

Winds blow flying embers from a burning tree at the Bobcat Fire in Juniper Hills California
Winds blow flying embers from a burning tree at the Bobcat Fire in Juniper Hills California

Fundamentally, we have suppressed fires for more than a hundred years.

No other information was released about the firefighter, the agency the firefighter worked for or the circumstances of the death.

But Thursday, officials issued evacuation orders for areas toward the fire's northern boundaries after the blaze jumped Highway 2 in the Angeles National Forest, fueled by canyon winds, officials said.

Cal Fire said earlier this month the fire was ignited on September 5 when a couple, their young children and someone there to record a video, staged the baby gender reveal at El Dorado Ranch Park at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains.

More than 7,900 wildfires have burned more than 5,468 square miles (14,164 square kilometers) in California this year, including many since a mid-August barrage of dry lightning ignited parched vegetation. Behrens said in a telephone interview he could not comment beyond details in the statement.

Cooler, more favourable weather in the region since last week has already dispelled some of the smoky, polluted air and tempered the flames, enabling ground teams with hand tools and bulldozers to regroup and consolidate their gains while also allowing greater use of water-dropping helicopters and aeroplane tankers.

Fires continue to burn across the state up into OR and Washington, including the August Complex fire which has become the largest wildfire in the state's history, and remains only 34 percent contained according to Cal Fire.

Captain Bennet Milloy of Cal Fire said criminal charges against the couple who held the party were being considered.

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