VIDEO. California: images of the giant “Oak fire” that continues to spread “explosively”

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The fire, called the “Oak Fire”, broke out on Friday near the small town of Midpines and has already covered about 6,800 hectares of vegetation according to the latest reports.

More than 2,500 firefighters supported by 17 helicopters continue to battle the flames of an ‘explosive’ fire last night that continues to spread at an ‘extremely fast’ rate in the wooded hills of central California near the famous Yosemite National Park.

Already the largest forest fire in California at the time, “it is developing rapidly and the reaction window to evacuate people is limited”, explained the CNN channel Jon Heggie, a person in charge of the firefighters in California. According to the expert, the speed of development and the behavior of this fire “is truly unprecedented”.

“The flames were up to 30 meters high,” David Lee, an evacuee, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper. The 55-year-old was one of the first people to be evacuated on Friday and believed his house was engulfed in flames. “He came straight to us. This fire is the fastest I’ve ever seen,” added the resident.

The “Oak Fire” was only contained to 10% on Monday July 25, after destroying a dozen buildings, but emergency services fear that it will increase in intensity.

\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 United States: in California, megafire season opens with the “Oak Fire” ravaging the Yosemite forest. pic.twitter.com/adz0MVZeAx

— Telesud (@Telesud_) July 25, 2022

The fire threatens several thousand homes in small rural towns in Mariposa County, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, where several thousand people remain under evacuation orders. Described as a “megafire” by Jon Heggie, it mainly burned dead trees and withered bushes in this region, which, like much of California, is in a constant drought.

“This is a direct consequence of climate change,” said the fire chief. “You can’t have ten years of drought in California and expect things not to change.”

Chronic drought and heat waves

Jonathan Pierce, a fire department spokesman, said low humidity and high temperatures caused the fire. “We also have high tree ‘mortality’ in Mariposa County, so there are many dead trees standing, many dead trees on the ground,” he added. About 3,000 people have been evacuated so far, officials said.

Yosemite Park, one of the most famous in the world, caught fire in mid-July, its flames threatening its giant sequoias. These trees for several millennia have mostly been preserved thanks mainly to the controlled fires that have been carried out for decades in these woods to reduce the fuel on the ground.

\ud83d\udd25\ud83c\udf32California continues to battle the blazes, which authorities say are out of control. Nearly 6,000 hectares were destroyed, thousands of people were evacuated. The Oak Fire now threatens a thousand-year-old redwood in Yosemite National Park. pic.twitter.com/0ZuGZzSF0u

— TV5MONDE Info (@TV5MONDEINFO) July 25, 2022

The American West has experienced wildfires of unusual size and intensity in recent years, with a marked extension of the fire season, a phenomenon scientists attribute mainly to climate change. .

The “Oak Fire” was one of the most dramatic displays of the heat wave that hit the United States last weekend. Temperatures exceeding 37°C are still predicted in the center of the United States (Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas) at the beginning of the week and even the northwest coast of the country, which is generally cold and very humid, is not spared.

The meteorological services have thus issued a high heat alert in Seattle this week and records may be broken there on Tuesday, July 26. The city is not used to the heat many homes lack air conditioning, a unique to the United States.

The region experienced a historic heat peak in June 2021, with temperatures reaching 47°C in parts of the northwestern United States and adjacent Canada. Authorities estimate that hundreds of people have died due to the unprecedented heat wave in the area.

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