California wildfires prompt evacuations amid heat wave

Aug 31, 2022, 7:31 PM | Updated: Sep 1, 2022, 4:58 am
Wind whips embers from a hotspot during a wildfire in Castaic, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. ...

Wind whips embers from a hotspot during a wildfire in Castaic, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

CASTAIC, Calif. (AP) — California wildfires erupted Wednesday in rural areas, racing through bone-dry brush and prompting evacuations as the state sweltered under a heat wave that could last through Labor Day.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency with temperatures expected to be 10 to 20 degrees above normal, and urged people to help reduce demand for electricity by turning their thermostats up to 85 degrees (29 Celsius) if they won’t be at home over the holiday weekend.

The Route Fire in Castaic in northwestern Los Angeles County raged through about 4,625 acres (1,872 hectares) of hills containing scattered houses. Interstate 5, a major north-south route, was closed by a blaze that burned several hundred acres in only a few hours.

Media reports showed a wall of flames advancing uphill and smoke billowing thousands of feet into the air while planes dumped water from nearby Castaic Lake. There were no immediate reports of damage to buildings but a mobile home park with 94 residences was evacuated.

An elementary school also was evacuated. Temperatures in the area hit 107 degrees (42 Celsius) and winds gusted to 17 mph (27 kph), forecasters said.

Eight firefighters were treated for heat-related problems, including six who were sent to hospitals, but all were in good condition, Los Angeles County Fire Department Deputy Chief Thomas Ewald said.

More injuries were expected as crews cope with extreme heat that was expected to stretch into next week, Ewald said during a news conference Wednesday night.

“Wearing heavy firefighting gear, carrying packs, dragging hose, swinging tools, the folks out there are just taking a beating,” he said.

Aircraft would continue to drop water and fire retardant on the blaze overnight and winds could shift to the north through the night, causing the fire to burn back on itself, Ewald said.

Ewald also said there could be other fires in LA County as the searing heat continues. Bulldozers to cut firebreaks will be staffed around the county Thursday as a precaution, he said.

“This is the fire that’s burning right now. But we have 4,000 square miles (10,360 square kilometers) of LA County that we have to consider for tomorrow,” he said.

Another fire burned at least four buildings, including a home, and prompted evacuations in the Dulzura area in eastern San Diego County near the Mexican border. It swiftly grew to more than 1,600 acres (647.5 hectares) acres and prompted evacuation orders for at least 400 homes, authorities said.

State Route 94 was closed. The Mountain Empire Unified School District will be closed Thursday, officials said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that the Tecate port of entry with Mexico closed three hours early on Wednesday night because of the fire and wouldn’t reopen until conditions improved to ensure “the safety of the traveling public.” Travelers could continue to use the 24-hour Otay Mesa crossing.

No injuries were immediately reported, but there were “multiple close calls” as residents rushed to flee, said Capt. Thomas Shoots with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“We had multiple 911 calls from folks unable to evacuate” because their homes were surrounded by the fire, Shoots told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The National Weather Service said many valleys, foothills, mountains and desert areas of the state remained under an elevated fire risk because of low humidity and high temperatures, which set several records for the day. The hottest days were expected to be Sunday and Monday.

Wildfires have sprung up this summer throughout the Western states. The largest and deadliest blaze in California this year erupted in late July in Siskyou County, near the Oregon state line. It killed four people and destroyed much of the small community of Klamath River.

Scientists have said climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. Across the American West, a 22-year megadrought deepened so much in 2021 that the region is now in the driest spell in at least 1,200 years.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Wind whips embers from a hotspot during a wildfire in Castaic, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
            
              Wind whips embers from a hotspot during a wildfire in Castaic, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
            
              An air tanker drops retardant on a wildfire in Castaic, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
            
              A firefighter walks along a wildfire burning on a hillside in Castaic, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
            The Route Fire burns over the closed-off interstate 5 Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Castaic, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) A helicopter drops water at a wildfire in Castaic, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu) Smoke rises from a wildfire in Castaic, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu) A wildfire burns in Castaic, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu) A helicopter drops water at a wildfire in Castaic, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

AP

FILE An oil tanker is moored at the Sheskharis complex, part of Chernomortransneft JSC, a subsidiar...
Associated Press

EU edges closer to $60-per-barrel Russian oil price cap

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union was edging closer to setting a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil — a highly anticipated and complex political and economic maneuver designed to keep Russia’s supplies flowing into global markets while clamping down on President Vladimir Putin’s ability to fund his war in Ukraine. EU nations sought to […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Rat Attack: NYC seeks hands-on leader in anti-rodent fight

NEW YORK (AP) — Hate rats? Are you a “somewhat bloodthirsty” New Yorker with excellent communication skills and “a general aura of badassery”? Then you might have what it takes to be the city’s new rat czar. Mayor Eric Adams’ administration posted a job listing this week seeking someone to lead the city’s long-running battle […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

2 charged in death of Missouri child who ingested fentanyl

FLORISSANT, Mo. (AP) — Two Missouri adults have been charged in the death of a toddler after she ingested fentanyl, St. Louis County police announced Thursday. The child, 21-month-old Lilinna Leak, died after officers found her unconscious at a home in Florissant on Nov. 11, police said. A drug screening at a hospital found fentanyl […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

82-year-old woman arrested for not paying $77 trash bill

VALLEY, Ala. (AP) — An 82-year-old Alabama woman was arrested for not paying a $77.80 trash bill. Court records show the Valley woman was arrested Sunday for not paying the garbage service bill that covered the months of June, July and August. She was charged with a misdemeanor offense of “failure to pay solid waste […]
14 hours ago
FILE - New York Police Department officers wake up sleeping passengers and direct them to the exits...
Associated Press

Widespread outage shuts down 988 mental health hotline

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s new 988 hotline, intended to help anyone experiencing a mental health emergency, has been out of service for several hours Thursday. Those trying to reach the line for help with suicide, depression or other mental health crises are greeted with a message that says the line is “experiencing a service […]
14 hours ago
FILE - New York Police Department officers wake up sleeping passengers and direct them to the exits...
Associated Press

Widespread outage shuts down 988 mental health hotline

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s new 988 hotline, intended to help anyone experiencing a mental health emergency, has been out of service for several hours Thursday. Those trying to reach the line for help with suicide, depression or other mental health crises are greeted with a message that says the line is “experiencing a service […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
California wildfires prompt evacuations amid heat wave