The state of emergency applies to Fresno, Madera and Mariposa counties where the Creek Fire is burning and San Bernardino and San Diego counties where the El Dorado Fire and Valley Fire, respectively, are raging, a statement from the state’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) said Sunday night.
Tens of thousands of acres have been burned by the three fires, which have also destroyed homes and caused thousands of residents to evacuate, according to the Cal OES statement.
More than 200 people were airlifted from the campsite by a Chinook and Blackhawk Helicopter, Cpl. David Hall of the California National Guard said during a news conference Sunday.
The rescue operation began late Saturday and was completed around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, he said. Rescue crews decided to load as many people on board as possible on the second run to the campsite as weather conditions deteriorated.
“On that second round — when it was more important to get everybody out — it was important that they brought everybody on, secured what they could and then everybody else ended up taking a seat on the floor,” he said. “We do not like to operate this way but because of the circumstances of this being an urgent situation threatening life, the pilots and command made a smart decision by asking them to get on the helicopter and loading as many as they could on that lift.”
Hall said that two people were seriously injured and 19 evacuees suffered lesser injuries.
The fires have burned thousands of acres
There are also several lightning complex fires throughout the state, accounting for more than 850,000 scorched acres between the SCU, CZU and LNU lightning complex fires.
Records broken throughout the state
This wildfire year is the worst in California’s history in terms of acres burned. The state broke its record for land scorched statewide Sunday, with 2,094,955 acres burned, Cal Fire Capt. Richard Cordova told CNN.
“This is crazy. We haven’t even got into the October and November fire season and we’ve broken the all-time record,” Cordova said.
“It concerns us because we need to get these firefighters off these lines and get them breaks from battling these wildfires,” he added.
It was the hottest it’s been in more than half a century, with seven other records set in the 1950s beaten Sunday in various parts of the state, the alert said.
CNN’s Jaide Timm-Garcia, Susannah Cullinane, Alta Spells, Artemis Moshtaghian, and Paul Vercammen contributed to this report.