California governor issues fire emergency for two counties ravaged by wildfire

A firefighter works to battle the Carr Fire at a home in Redding California

A firefighter works to battle the Carr Fire at a home in Redding California

One person was killed in a raging, out-of-control wildfire that sent residents racing to flee a northern California city on Friday as flames burned homes and businesses and knocked out power, fire officials said.

Cal Fire Unit Chief Mike Hebrard told the Record Searchlight newspaper that the blaze made a huge push overnight and that engine crews were in the community of Old Shasta trying to save structures.

He says the fire is "taking everything down in its path".

(Picture: AP) A house burns during the Carr fire in Redding, California (Picture: AFP) More than 1,700 firefighters are battling the blaze, Cal Fire said in an evening advisory. "We're fighting the fight right now". They also warned of possible afternoon wind gusts that could create risky fire conditions.

The wildfires have dispatched firefighters to all corners of the state amid an oppressive heat wave. Throughout the day, helicopters and planes dumped water and fire retardant that turned swathes of land and homes pink.

The 43,300-acre (17,500-hectare) Ferguson Fire has forced Yosemite National Park to close a visitor hub as it pours thick black smoke into the valley 170 miles (275 km) east of San Francisco.

Firefighters discuss plans while battling the Carr Fire in Shasta California
AP Firefighters discuss plans while battling the Carr Fire in Shasta California

CBS affiliate KFMB-TV reported that the Riverside Sheriff's station was conducting evacuations of Idyllwild, the Apple Canyon area, the Lake Hemet area, Mountain Center Community, the Hurkey Creek area and Camp Scherman Girl Scout Camp.

Smoke and flames are seen as a wildfire spreads through Redding, California, the US, July 26, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.

"One of the fires McGlover allegedly started is the Cranston Fire, which is actively burning on Federal land in the San Jacinto Ranger District and is now 4,700 acres with zero percent containment", officials tell news. The closure was heartbreaking for travellers, many of whom mapped out their trips months in advance to hike and climb amid the spectacular views of cascading waterfalls and sheer rock faces.

Officials emphasized that Yosemite wasn't in imminent danger from the fire. The next morning, they left for Los Angeles.

Redding hospital has been evacuated - with at least five infants being rushed out and some babies being airlifted to hospitals in Sacramento.

The fire was being fuelled by timber, brush and chaparral as high as six feet, and it was only 5 percent contained by mid afternoon on Thursday local time.

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