Wild fires across California force massive evacuation

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-25 14:07:22|Editor: Li Xia
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Firefighters work at a fire site in Sonoma County, the U.S. state of California, Oct. 24, 2019. Fast-growing wild fires throughout California on Thursday burned down dozens of buildings, forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate their homes. (Photo by Li Jianguo/Xinhua)

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Fast-growing wild fires throughout California on Thursday burned down dozens of buildings, forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate their homes.

Fed by dry winds and high heat, about 10 wildfires occurred throughout the state, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

So far no immediate injuries were reported.

In Southern California, a brush fire dubbed Tick Fire broke out Thursday afternoon and exploded to 3,950 acres (15.9 square km) by 8:00 pm local time. The Los Angeles County Fire Department said the blaze threatened 10,000 structures and forced 40,000 people to be evacuated.

Videos from local ABC7 news channel showed some outdoor structures were visibly damaged and the flames were coming dangerously close to homes and roads in some areas where people fled from homes then ran into cars for their lives.

"Firefighters are faced with a strong Santa Ana wind this evening and into Friday. Approximately 500 firefighters are currently on-scene with additional resources responding from all over the state," Los Angeles County Fire Department said in a statement.

Three more wild fires also broke out in Los Angeles County on Thursday, local authorities said, adding that firefighters were in a fierce battle to save homes.

In Northern California wine country, authorities had ordered 2,000 people to evacuate as a wildfire, dubbed Kincade Fire, exploded overnight, scorching over 16,000 acre (64.8 square km) by Thursday night.

Officials also ordered an evacuation of Geyserville, home to about 900 people and a popular stop for wine country tourists, along with nearby residences. The blaze threatened some of the area's famed wineries and had burned 49 buildings, the ABC 7 news channel reported.

More than 500 firefighters were battling the blaze in Sonoma County, but their overnight efforts could only focus on evacuations and the high winds made the fire difficult to contain.

"Our aircraft can't drop in those conditions. When you have that kind of wind speed, the resistance to control is beyond our capabilities. Because of the terrain and fuel conditions and the heat and humidity, the containment is still very challenging," Mark Parks with Cal Fire told local KCRA news channel.

Reports day that the Kincade fire started Wednesday night near the Geysers Geothermal Plant, the world's largest geothermal field where nearly two dozen power plants draw steam from more than 350 mountain wells to create electricity.

While the cause of the Kincade fire had not been determined, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reported a problem with a transmission tower near the spot where the fire ignited and at time just minutes later after the fire started.

PG&E, a publicly-traded, investor-owned utility that services two-thirds of northern California, announced Wednesday that it would cut off electricity to almost 180,000 California customers from that day's noon through Thursday as a precaution to possible breakout of wildfires.

PG&E also warned Thursday that more widespread blackouts this weekend were expected across much of the San Francisco Bay Area. It would be the third major outage this month.

Meanwhile, Southern California Edison, the main utility in southern California, had also cut power to more than 27,000 customers since Wednesday. It was considering additional power cuts to more than 386,000 customers.

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