California wildfire destroys several homes, thousands evacuated

Washington D.C.: A fast-moving wildfire in Northern California destroyed several homes on Wednesday, while another blaze in Arizona– the seventh-largest wildfire on record– expanded to 114,000 acres.

The fires are among several burning across the western part of the country as dry conditions, low humidity and gusty winds increase fire danger in the region, Fox News reported.

In California, CAL Fire said a fast-moving grass fire known as the Nelson Fire, broke out around 11:49 a.m. (local time) in Thermalito, about 68 miles north of Sacramento.

Homes destroyed

Fire officials said it scorched 95 acres, destroyed three homes and damaged two others.

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office ordered evacuations for the neighbourhood until firefighters were able to fully contain the blaze.

However, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The region remains under a red flag warning until Thursday night, due to winds up to 50 mph and low humidity, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

As of Thursday morning, the Bush Fire northeast of Phoenix was only 5 per cent contained, with about 2,000 people being told to evacuate the area in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID complicates evacuations

Arizona has been seeing a sharp spike in covid-19 cases during the past few weeks, which complicates evacuations due to the need to maintain social distancing in shelters and other considerations.

Video emerged on social media appearing to show Four Peaks, an iconic landmark visible from Phoenix about 40 miles east of the city, glowing — several spot fires peppering the slopes.

Extreme fire will probably continue in coming days, with increasing temperatures compensating for any slackening of the winds to make firefighting conditions extremely challenging.

Temperatures in the Tonto Basin, which will remain in the mid-90s on Thursday and Friday, are further expected to spike to the century mark this weekend and into the 102-to-105-degree range next week — further drying vegetation and enabling fire spread, as per meteorological reports cited by The Washington Post.