Fifty hikers spent another night trapped in the California wilderness last night after the Creek Fire blocked all escape routes leaving them trapped near Fresno. Hikers have been advised to jump into the reservoir if necessary to protect themselves from the flames.
- Related: All Southern California National Forests Closed Due to Wildfire Risk | Mammoth Mountain Suspends Summer Operations
150 hikers in total were trapped at the Mammoth Pool Boat Launch in the Sierra National Forest. Helicopters have so far managed to rescue 63 of them. Rescue attempts, hampered by thick smoke, will continue Tuesday morning.
“Aircraft are returning to continue rescue operations. Unknown how many more.”
– Fire Department spokesman
One of the group suffered a medical condition and sadly died, two have suffered severe injuries and ten moderate injuries, with reports of broken bones and burns among the injuries.
As of last night, the Creek Fire has spread to 135,523-acres and is zero percent contained. The fire is near the communities of Shaver Lake, Big Creek, and Huntington Lake. The flames have also spread towards the San Joaquin River and jumped across the river into Madera County.
“This is an unprecedented disaster for Fresno County. This is one of the largest and most dangerous fires in the history of Fresno County. I don’t think everyone understands that. Playing that game of ‘how long can I wait’ is just foolish.”
– Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Brandon Pursell
The fire began on Friday and is thought to have been caused by lightning. A 120ºF heatwave over the weekend helped the explosive fire spread so quickly. Up to 30,000 people have been evacuated from nearby communities and 1,060 personnel are tackling the blaze. 65 structures have been destroyed, including homes, and 5,300 remain under threat.
From 5 pm yesterday evening, a number of National Forests in Southern California were closed to the public by the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, to provide for public safety and reduce the potential for human-caused wildfire starts.