Evacuation orders issued in California as wildfires rage amid scorching heat

Scorching heat on July 4 fueled wildfires across California, while meteorologists warned that dangerously hot weather could be expected in the coming days.

Much of the country is in the grip of a heatwave that is set to break records and make conditions dangerously hot, with a massive fire near Yosemite National Park forcing people to evacuate and hospitalized patients to shelter in place.

The fire in Mariposa County, California, broke out on Thursday. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that as of Friday evening, the fire was 15% contained and had burned 908 acres.

Some Mariposa residents were allowed to return home by Friday evening, but evacuation warnings and mandatory evacuation orders remained in place for other areas.

Footage taken in the area and posted on social media showed huge flames and huge clouds of smoke billowing into the sky. Another video showed a plane dropping fire retardant over a wooded area near Mariposa on Thursday.

About 3,100 energy customers were without power Friday evening in Mariposa County, according to the poweroutage.us website.

In Northern California, the massive Thompson Fire continues to burn in Butte County, where it has burned nearly 3,800 acres and was 46% contained as of Friday evening.

A fire broke out Tuesday in Oroville, 65 miles north of Sacramento, forcing thousands of people to evacuate, though “the vast majority” of the 17,000 people under evacuation orders or warnings were able to return home Thursday, Butte County Public Information Officer Christy Olio said.

Lynette Bailey told NBC News on Thursday that she had to struggle to get her 90-year-old father to a nearby shelter.

“It was a panic time, because my dad didn’t want to go and I told him, ‘You have to get in the car right away.'”

The Thompson Fire continues to burn above Lake Oroville on Tuesday.Noah Berger/AP

But because there's no shelter left for her dog, Bailey has spent the last two days outside in the heat. “It's really sad. I'm out here in 108 degrees … I'm more worried about my dad,” she said.

Many Fourth of July celebrations were canceled in California on Thursday as temperatures soared past 100 degrees, with some locations reaching 110 degrees.

A 61-year-old man was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with starting a backfire, a small controlled fire set to prevent a larger blaze that was extinguished by firefighters, Cal Fire and the Butte County Fire Department said Thursday.

Authorities said in a statement, “A man was observed setting a backfire on a property located along Oro Quincy Highway.” The man admitted to starting the fire with a propane torch and was booked into jail on a felony charge of illegally starting a fire in a wildland area.

Auroville was hit by the Camp Fire in 2018, which killed 85 people and displaced about 50,000.

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