Wildfires rage across the US amid record-breaking temperatures

At least one dead as wildfires trap 50 hikers in California, decimate an entire town in Washington, burn through Utah and Colorado and cause more than 100,000 to lose power in Oregon during record heatwave

  • Efforts are underway to rescue around 50 people trapped near Lake Edison by California’s Creek Fire 
  • A Chinook attempted to land on Monday night but the amount of smoke made landing impossible
  • Authorities say they will try again using night vision equipment, amid fears of casualties on the ground 
  • Wildfires are raging across California with an estimated 24 separate blazes fought by 14,000 firefighters 
  • On Sunday it emerged that the El Dorado Fire near San Bernardino was started by a gender reveal party 
  • Washington, Utah and Colorado also battling wildfires as parts of the west are carpeted in smoke 
  • Oregon and Idaho have suffered power outages as high winds down cables, increasing fears of further fires 

At least one person is dead and 50 are trapped by wildfires in California as blazes rip through Washington, Utah  Colorado and Oregon during a record heatwave.

Military helicopters tried unsuccessfully to rescue hikers trapped by wildfires in the Sierra National Forest, California on Monday night, but were beaten back by heavy smoke. The group of hikers and campers remain trapped by Lake Edison, 250 miles east of San Francisco. 

Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Tony Escobedo confirmed at least one casualty and warned there may be multiple more. 

‘Rescue efforts were unsuccessful, military pilots tried valiantly to land but heavy smoke conditions prevented a safe approach,’ the fire department tweeted.  ‘Another effort will be made shortly to evacuate the trapped people in Lake Edison and China Peak using night vision.’ 

Monday’s frantic rescue attempt came as wildfires blazed across swathes of the western United States on Monday night, destroying homes and devastating forests and grasslands, as record high temperatures and strong winds made the task of fire fighters even more challenging.

In California, 14,100 fire fighters were battling 24 separate blazes, which have collectively destroyed 2 million acres.

An all-time temperature record for Los Angeles County of 121 degrees was set on Sunday, during a historic Labor Day weekend heat wave.

The all-time county record was set at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, a suburb of LA.  

The Creek Fire burns along a hillside in the Cascadel Woods community of Madera County on Monday

Smoke from the Creek Fire envelopes trees in the Cascadel Woods community of Madera County on Monday

Wildfires are blazing across swathes of the western United States, from California and Washington to Colorado 

Fresno Fire Department said on Monday evening that they had been unable to rescue the trapped hikers 

A firefighter is silhouetted against the blazing forest as he battles the Creek Fire in northern California on Monday

The Creek Fire has consumed at least 73,000 acres since the sparks were first lit on Friday evening

A firefighter stands in front of an engine on Highway 168 as crews monitor the advance of the Creek Fire on Monday

In California 14,100 fire fighters are battling 24 separate blazes, which have collectively destroyed 2 million acres

Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, declared a state of emergency on Sunday as 24 wildfires blazed

The Creek Fire (pictured), in Fresno County, California, has sent rivers of fire surging through the Sierra National Forest

The fire spread from the El Dorado Ranch Park north, onto the Yucaipa Ridge and into the San Bernardino National Forest

In Washington state, a small town of 300 people saw 80 per cent of the homes destroyed.

And in Oregon and Idaho, fires close to power lines shut off the electricity, adding to the misery amid the heatwave.

The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, on Sunday night declared a state of emergency as his hard-hit state struggled to beat back the blazes.

Among the most devastating fires was one in northern California, caused by lightning, which was burning through Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo and Solano counties. 

The LNU Lightning Complex began on August 17 and has so far burnt 375,209 acres, killing four people. The fire is now 91 per cent contained.

Among the most dramatic on Monday was the Creek Fire, which was first sparked on Friday evening and quickly exploded to 135,523 acres – doubling in size again within a day.

The Creek Fire – which trapped the Lake Edison campers – currently has 0 per cent containment, Cal Fire said, and is being fought by almost 1,000 fire fighters.

The fire is located near the communities of Shaver Lake, Big Creek and Huntington Lake.  

Over the weekend the Creek Fire trapped a further 214 people, who had to be rescued by helicopter after the roads were blocked.

Starting on Saturday night lasting into Sunday morning, a Black Hawk helicopter and a large Chinook helicopter flew the 214 people to the National Guard base at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

The two aircrafts conducted three lifts from the Mammoth Pool Reservoir along the Fresno/Madera County border, the National Guard said.

Once at the base, emergency medical workers helped triage and take the injured to local hospitals, including Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC). 

Twenty of them were to nearby hospitals and six are in CRMC’s burn unit, EMS officials told Action News.

Some outdoor shelters near Shaver Lake were engulfed with flames (pictured) as authorities ordered people to evacuate

Buildings were consumed by fire on Monday as the Creek Fire raged out of control in northern California

A firefighter is pictured tackling the Creek Fire near Camp Sierra Road and Redding Road on Monday

The Creek Fire also claimed at least two dozen homes in the small mountain town of Big Creek, a fire official said on Monday.

Chris Donnelly, the longtime chief of the volunteer fire department in the nearby town of Huntington Lake, said three propane tanks totaling 11,000 gallons exploded, and an elementary school also caught fire – although it wasn’t clear whether it burned.

The school’s superintendent, Toby Wait, told The Fresno Bee that a church, a library and a historic general store appear to have survived the fire, although Wait’s home burned after his family was evacuated early Saturday.

‘Words cannot even begin to describe the devastation of this community,’ he told the newspaper.   

Jim Smart is among thousands of people to be evacuated from their homes as wildfires rage across the western U.S.

Jim Smart rests on the back of his vehicle after evacuating from the Creek Fire on Monday with two of his prized motorcycles

A father and his son look at a fire truck as they wait to be evacuated from the Creek Fire on Monday

Firefighters, pictured on Monday, have been working around the clock to put out the Creek Fire in northern California

Hot and dry conditions, coupled with strong winds, are making the task of fighting the Creek Fire (pictured) even harder

Seth Sandstrom rushes to repair a dock that separated as the Creek Fire approaches the Sierra Marina with 430 boats docked 

The California National Guard flies overhead the August Complex Fires in video posted online on Monday

Firefighters walk through the site near Shaver Lake as they continue to battle against the Creek Fire which started on Friday

The Creek Fire blazes near Shaver Lake in Fresno County, California – destroying homes and killing at least one person

Firefighters are pictured dousing the Creek Fire with water near Shaver Lake in northern California on Monday

The Creek Fire began on Friday evening and trapped hikers across the region, with rescues needed all weekend

The Creek Fire (pictured) is currently blazing across the Sierra National Forest, 250 miles east from San Francisco

The Creek Fire has rapidly increased in size, and is currently being fought by 800 fire fighters from across the region 

Residents evacuate with their pets during the Creek fire in the North Fork area of unincorporated Madera County on Monday

Annette Smart (R) and her granddaughter Malina Sandoval, 10, check on their animals while evacuating during the Creek Fire

In southern California, the El Dorado wildfire was sparked on Saturday by a gender reveal party, when the pyrotechnical smoke device sent sparks into the bone-dry brush.

The fire has burned 7,386 acres so far, and is only seven per cent contained.

More than 520 firefighters are involved in attempts to stop the spread of the fire, near San Bernardino. 

The fire started on Saturday at 10:23am, the authorities said, and 527 people from 10 fire crews are currently trying to halt the fire’s progress.

It spread from the El Dorado Ranch Park north, onto the Yucaipa Ridge. The ridge separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the City of Yucaipa.

Bennet Milloy, spokesman for the department, told DailyMail.com that the people hosting the party were still on the scene when the firefighters arrived.

‘We know how it started because they were still there,’ he said. ‘That, and the fact that there were surveillance cameras in the park.’

Milloy said that it was a relatively small family gathering, and that the relatives had gathered for a photo opportunity. 

He did not know if they were local people, but he said they were potentially both civilly and criminally responsible for the fire – facing jail time and a massive fine. The family could be held responsible for the entire cost of putting the fire out, amounting to many millions of dollars, he said.

The civil costs were deemed ‘suppression costs’ – the charges associated with hundreds of fire fighters, engines, helicopters and planes.

The criminal charges could fall under ‘a variety of charges’, he said – which would be more severe if homes were destroyed. The family could be hit with violations of public resources codes and even arson, under California’s penal code section 452. Arson convictions can result in a sentence of up to nine years.

Asked if the family realized the seriousness of their predicament, he said: ‘They understood the seriousness of the fire.’

Milloy continued: ‘They genuinely believed it was an accident. 

‘But I think now they understand the gravity of the situation.’

He did not have their names, but said they would be released if charges were pressed.  

The fire spread rapidly north from where it started at the El Dorado Ranch Park north, onto the Yucaipa Ridge

The wildfire is pictured moving up the hillsides of San Bernardino National Forest on Sunday

Satellite images on Saturday gave a sense of the scale of the El Dorado fire, which was started by a gender reveal party

Burnt vegetation remains after the El Dorado Fire near Yucaipa on Monday – a fire started by a gender reveal party

A firefighter monitors the El Dorado Fire as it burns a hillside near Yucaipa on Monday

Firefighters stop along Oak Glen Road while working the El Dorado Fire in southern California on Monday

Roads are block at Bryant St. and CA Hwy. 138 near Yucaipa, as the El Dorado Fire entered its third day on Monday

Fire officials have confirmed that the El Dorado wildfire was started by a gender reveal party on Saturday morning

The El Dorado Fire burns a hillside near Yucaipa in the San Bernardino National Forest on Monday

Residents watch as the El Dorado Fire burns a hillside near Yucaipa in the San Bernardino National Forest on Monday

A fire retardant-sprayed house sits below the burn scar of the El Dorado Fire near Yucaipa on Monday

Firefighters work to put out embers from the El Dorado Fire on Monday in southern California

In southern California, near San Diego, the Valley Fire (pictured) begun on Saturday afternoon and has spread rapidly

North of California, in Washington state, the town of Malden was almost entirely destroyed.

Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said that 70-80 per cent of homes in the town of 300 people have gone up in flames.

Local news network KREM showed pictured of the charred Malden post office, a fire still burning inside the gutted building.  

Larry Frick, who lives in Malden, told KXLY that he spent three hours to save his house amid the flames.

‘It’s gone, brother,’ he texted his sibling after the fire swept through. 

‘The entire town is gone. Everything from here to Pine City is gone. The scariest time of my life.’ 

KREM said that at least nine wildfires were burning throughout the Inland Northwest on Monday, amid dry and windy conditions. 

A wildfire has destroyed an estimated 70-80 per cent of the homes in Malden, Washington, it emerged on Monday

Houses are pictured going up in flames in Malden, Washington, on Sunday as wildfires destroy parts of the northwest

Malden, a town of 300 people in Washington, has been largely wiped out by the wildfires that have swept the region

Washington’s wildfires had also spread to neighboring Idaho.

Evacuations were being ordered around the town of Blanchard, as a result of the Hunters Fire.

Adding to the misery, more than 60,000 electric customers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington were without power on Monday afternoon, as high winds blew over trees, snapping power lines. 

The downed electricity lines further added to fears of wildfires. 

Nearly 100,000 people in the Portland, Oregon area were without power on Monday night as gusts approaching 50 mph toppled trees and power lines, according to The Oregonian. 

Portland General Electric (PGE) reported that 40,000 in the city of Portland were without power; plus nearly 30,000 customers in Clackamas County; 18,000 in Washington County; and 6,000 in Multnomah County.

In the Mount Hood area of Oregon, 5,000 people had their electricity cut pre-emptively – an unprecedented move for PGE. 

In Colorado, the capital city, Denver, was cloaked in smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire, which began on August 13 and has so far burned 96,462 acres.

The state has 829 people battling to contain the fire, but evacuations have been ordered.

The Cameron Peak Fire is burning strongly through the timbers around Fort Collins, and officials do not expect it to be fully extinguished until Halloween. 

And in Utah, homes were being evacuated on Monday as a wildfire near Mapleton and Springville spread quickly due to strong winds.

The Ether Hollow Fire was sparked by target shooters, state wildfire officials have determined. 

It began shortly before 6.30pm on Monday and is currently estimated at 500 acres. 

The wind was preventing aerial firefighting resources from flying in the area. 

The town of Mapleton in Utah was evacuated on Monday as the wildfires spread across the surrounding hills

Firefighters in Mapleton, Utah, were having their task complicated on Monday by strong winds 

Smoke envelopes the downtown Denver skyline as winds carry the smoky air from the Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado

The Cameron Peak Fire, west of Fort Collins in Colorado, is now one of the largest wildfires in the state’s history

Red Cross volunteer Faith Reihing stands outside a pop-up shelter for evacuees from Cameron Peak wildfire, Colorado

Californian wildfires obscure the sun in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Monday evening

A satellite map from Monday afternoon shows the scale of the wildfires, carpeting much of California with smoke

The sun is seen behind smoke from the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest above Duarte, California, on Monday

Acorn woodpeckers look for bugs in a dead tree in the Angeles National Forest where the Bobcat Fire is burning above Duarte

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