SACRAMENTO, Sept. 13 (UPI) — California’s Butte and Valley fires have grown and further endangered the drought-stricken state — damaging dozens of properties and injuring four firefighters.
Lake County’s Valley fire, about 100 miles north of San Francisco, grew to 40,000 acres by Sunday morning. It first started as a 50-acre fire but as it grew, four firefighters were injured — suffering from second-degree burns.
Firefighters are using 10 fire engines, five airtankers and three helicopters to combat the Valley flames, among other resources.
“During initial attack four members of Copter 104’s crew suffered burn injuries and were transported to an area burn center,” the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said in a statement.
The South Lake County Fire Protection District and multiple Lake County Fire Departments are “aggressively fighting” the blazes, according to Cal Fire.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for the communities of Big Canyon Road, Cobb, Middletown, Harbin and Hot Springs.
“This fire has continued to grow at such a fast rate. It’s threatening more and more homes,” Cal Fire public information officer Daniel Berlant said told CNN. “With the dry conditions we have across California, this fire has been explosive in the size and just how quickly [it] has been able to grow.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in two counties after the fast-moving Butte wildfire exploded to nearly 65,000 acres Friday, threatening thousands of structures and damaging highways. The fire has since spread to 65,215 acres as of Sunday morning.
Thousands were forced to flee as the Butte fire moved closer to the Sierra foothills counties of Amador and Calaveras. More than 3,800 firefighters were battling the blaze and about 20 percent has been contained.
The unusually dry and hot conditions were making the fire increasingly unpredictable and extremely volatile. Some 6,400 homes were under evacuation orders.
About 86 homes and 51 other buildings have been destroyed.
The fire started Wednesday in Amador County and was quickly being compared to the 2013 Rim fire, which exploded to become the state’s third largest wildfire in recent memory.