fierceIt expanded on Monday, burning several thousand acres and forcing the evacuation of tens of millions of Americans during the Weekend. More than 2,000 firefighters backed by 17 helicopters have been deployed against the Oak Fire, which broke out Friday near Yosemite National Park, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
Three days after it broke out, the fire had already devoured more than 16,700 acres and was 10 percent contained as of early Monday morning, the agency said.
According to Cal Fire, “Extreme drought conditions have led to critical moisture levels for the fuel.”
Officials described the fire as “explosive” and left ashes, wrecked vehicles and crooked property in its wake as emergency personnel evacuated residents and protect buildings in its path.
CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti reports that 15 properties have already been destroyed or destroyed, with thousands of homes and other businesses threatened.
Smoke from the fire — which can be seen from the International Space Station — prompted an advisory on air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday, Vigliotti reports.
More than 6,000 people have been evacuated, and Oak Fire is the largest in the state so far, said Hector Vasquez, a Cal Fire official.
This year, California firefighters have been dispatched to more than 4,000 wildfires.
“The fire cycle is here, 1500 years agoIt’s terrifying, it’s very terrifying,” Beth Pratt, National Wildlife Federation regional executive director, told Vigliotti.
Linda Reynolds Brown and her husband, Aubrey, await news of the fate of their home from an elementary school evacuation center. They fled as the ash fell and flames descended on a hill toward their property.
“It looked like it was over our house and made our way up really fast,” Reynolds-Brown told KCRA-TV.
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County, citing “extremely dangerous conditions for the safety of people and property.”
In recent years, California and other parts of the western United States have been devastated by massive, fast-moving wildfires, driven by years of drought and climate warming.
Evidence of global warming can be seen elsewhere in the country as 85 million Americans in more than a dozen states were under a heat warning over the weekend.
The crisis prompted former Vice President Al Gore, a staunch climate advocate, to issue dire warnings on Sunday about lawmakers’ “inaction.”
When asked if he thought President Biden should declare a climate emergency, which would give him additional political powers, Gore was blunt.
“Mother Nature has declared it a global emergency,” he said on the ABC News talk show This Week.
“Things are set to get a lot worse, fast,” he said separately on NBC.
But he also noted that recent crises are deadlyIn Europe, it could serve as a wake-up call for members of Congress who have so far refused to embrace the fighting effort .
“I think these extreme events that are steadily getting worse and more severe are really starting to change opinions,” he said.
The central and northeastern regions faced the brunt of the intense heat, which is expected to cool down somewhat on Monday.
“Extreme heat will continue across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast tonight before the upper floor over Canada in the region dips to mild temperatures tomorrow,” the National Weather Service said Sunday afternoon.
But not all areas are expected to cool down: Temperatures are expected to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more in the coming days across parts of eastern Kansas and Oklahoma to southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.
Not even the normally cold Pacific Northwest will escape the far-reaching heat, the weather service added, as high temperatures are expected to rise steadily over the next few days, creating the potential for record-breaking.
Cities have been forced to open cooling stations and increase access to vulnerable communities such as the homeless and those without access to air conditioning.
Various regions of the world have experienced extreme heat waves in recent months, such as Western Europe in July and India in March to April, incidents that scientists say are an unmistakable sign of a warming climate.