LOS ANGELES, California, United States — Over 200 people were airlifted by military helicopters to safety after being trapped by a fast-moving wildfire at the areas surrounding Mammoth Pool Reservoir, a popular recreation area located in the Sierra National Forest, about 70 kilometers northeast of Fresno, a city in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
The evacuees were trapped after all ground escape routes were blocked by the fast-moving blaze.
In a tweet, Army General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, praised the effort, said “Simply extraordinary, lifesaving work by the @CalGuard airlifting more than 200 people to safety overnight from the imminent danger of the #CreekFire.”
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office said twenty of the evacuees were transported to area hospitals, with at least two seriously injured, said the Fresno Fire Department.
Gen. Hokanson added that dozens of those rescued were brought to California National Guard facilities and were attended to immediately by military medics and civilian first responders,
The Creek Fire started last Friday and has already spread to more than 18,400 hectares (45,500 acres) based on estimates by the US Forest Service, which makes it one of the biggest blazes recorded in the state’s busy fire season.
It also didn’t help that the raging wildfires were further aggravated by scorching-hot temperatures the state is already experiencing, like in Los Angeles, that recorded about 43 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) – temperatures.
Sadly, this latest blaze came even as California is still recovering from disastrous wildfires that hit 1.5 million acres in the last three weeks and destroyed hundreds of structures and forced tens of thousands of evacuees.