As if the drought was not disheartening enough, wildfires are now raging across many parts of northen and southern California focing Governor Jerry Brown to call a state of emergency. Nowhere is the crisis more evident than in NorCal's Lake County where, as The LA Times reports, the untamed wildfire forced chaotic evacuations, is consuming hundreds of homes and businesses, and has outrun the efforts of a growing army of firefighters to corral it. However, as the following clip shows, one car-driver ran the gauntlet and managed to outrun "the worst tragedy Lake County has ever seen," in a scene right out of a disaster movie.
The pictures from CA's newest fire are simply apocalyptic. Too hot, too dry, for too long pic.twitter.com/1tEXCbY1L0— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) September 14, 2015
A swiftly spreading wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of residents to flee as it roared unchecked through the northern California village of Middletown and nearby communities, fire officials said on Sunday.
The so-called Valley Fire, now ranked as the most destructive among scores of blazes that have ravaged the drought-stricken Western United States this summer, came amid what California fire officials described as "unheard of fire behavior" this season.
A separate fire raging since Wednesday in the western Sierras has leveled more than 130 buildings and was threatening about 6,400 other structures, with thousands of residents under evacuation orders there, too, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reported.
Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in both areas, and mandatory evacuations were expanded as shifting winds sent flames and ash from the Valley Fire toward a cluster of towns in the hills north of Napa Valley wine country.
As the following clip shows, locals had no time to prepare as they ran the gauntlet to survival...
"Middletown is basically gone," said one local evacuee.
"I saw flames all around ... The wind was insane. I have never been so scared," she said.
Mark Donpineo, 54, said he and two friends were trapped by the fire for four hours Saturday evening at a golf course in Hidden Valley Lake, taking cover in a culvert until the flames had passed.
"We got some towels, wetted them down and basically saw the fire coming. You could hear explosions of propane tanks, the ridge was totally on fire, trees were blowing up," he said.
Meanwhile, Cal Fire reported that 81 homes and 51 outbuildings had been lost in the four-day-old Butte Fire, which has charred more than 65,000 acres in the mountains east of Sacramento but was 20 percent contained.
As of Sunday, firefighters were battling nearly three dozen large blazes or clusters of fires in California and six other Western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
Sheriff Brian Martin described the fire as “the worst tragedy Lake County has ever seen.”