Firefighters battle California wildfires amid searing heat

CASTAIC: Wildfires in California passed through rural areas north of Los Angeles and east of San Diego on Thursday, racing through bone-dry brush and prompting evacuations as the state swelters under a heatwave that could extend past Labor Day .
The Route Fire near Castaic in northwest Los Angeles County erupted violently through the more than eight-square-mile hills containing scattered homes. Traffic jams on Interstate 5, a major north-south route that runs through the fire area. The estimated containment rate is 12%.
The plane drew water from nearby Lake Castaic to fill the fire. There were no immediate reports of damage to buildings but a mobile home park with 94 apartments was evacuated.
An elementary school was also evacuated. Temperatures in the area on Wednesday hit 107 degrees (42 degrees Celsius) and gusts of up to 17 mph (27 km/h), forecasters said.
Temperature at most California So high that Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and the state grid operator asked residents to voluntarily reduce their electricity use.
Eight firefighters were treated for heat-related problems, six of which were taken to the hospital, but all are in good condition, said Los Angeles County Fire Department Deputy Superintendent Thomas Ewald said.
Ewald said at a news conference on Wednesday night there will be more injuries as crews face extreme heat that is expected to last into next week.
“Wear heavy firefighting gear, carry, drag water tapthose swing tools, the people out there just beat,” he said.
Another fire burned at least four buildings, including a home, and forced residents to evacuate in the Dulzura area in eastern San Diego County near the US-Mexico border. Authorities said it quickly grew to more than 6 square miles and issued evacuation orders for at least 400 homes.
The fire was 5% contained, but firefighters warned that the weather would continue to be a challenge.
Two state highways have been closed. The Mountain Empire Unified School District is also closed.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that the Tecate port of entry to Mexico closed three hours early on Wednesday night due to a fire and will not reopen until conditions improve to ensure “the safety of the public.” Visitors can continue to use the 24-hour Otay Mesa Interchange.
No immediate injuries were reported, but there were many “close calls” as residents rushed to flee, Capt said. Thomas Shoots with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Shoots told the San Diego Union-Tribune: “We’ve received many 911 calls from people who couldn’t evacuate” because their home was surrounded by flames.
Wildfires have raged this summer across the Western states. The largest and deadliest fire in California to date broke out in July in Siskyou County. It killed four people and destroyed much of the small community on the Klamath River.
Climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the past three decades and will continue to make extreme weather and wildfires more frequent and destructive, scientists say.

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