Residents flee as California Rocky Fire expands

Large California fire rapidly spreads spanning 54,000 acres so far

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

California is facing its biggest wildfire in years as the so called Rocky Fire burns in the northern California mountains for its fifth day, spanning 54,000 acres on Sunday.

The fire, which has spread over three counties, had already burned 27,000 acres by Saturday, but the wind caused it to expand quickly.

About 2,000 firefighters, 180 fire engines, four air tankers and 19 helicopters are trying to overpower the fire.

Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), told CNN affiliate KCRA "this fire was very active throughout the night."

"It was really burning very fast, all the way up into the late hours, so unfortunately we're really not getting a break."

Berlant pointed out that the existing drought in the area worsens the situation as it meant the fire was initially only 5 percent contained.

Northwest Sacramento counties Lake, Yolo and Colusa are the most endangered areas as the fires are mostly burning around these provinces.

More than 12,000 people have been asked to evacuate their homes due to the fire.

California Fire Chief Ken Pimlott told CNN that National Guard troops have been called on and they are asking for additional help including from the US Forest Service, with California governor Jerry Brown declaring a state of emergency.

Pimlott added that there are some 20 additional fires the forces are battling with.

The fire has destroyed dozens of homes and 6,000 buildings are in danger

This "is a very dangerous fire," he said.

The wildfire has not only destroyed property but also took the life of Forest Service firefighter David Ruhl, while he was battling with the flames.

Jessica Schuricht, a resident in Lake County, said that many citizens are refusing to evacuate their houses as "they want to stay and fight.”

“They're being stubborn," she said.

Regarding the fire, she told NBC, "The whole sky was orange and gray."

"Our streets are covered with ash. Our cars are covered with ash. It's raining black embers," she said, emphasising how "scary" these scenes are.

TRTWorld and agencies