19 wildfires burn in California, including largest ever in Los Angeles

Firefighters in California were battling 19 large wildfires statewide, officials said Sunday, including a brush fire that was being called the largest ever in Los Angeles.

In all, more than more than 12,000 pairs of boots were on the ground battling the fires, and temperatures on Sunday were up to 20 degrees hotter than usual.

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday issued an emergency proclamation for Butte County, north of Sacramento, in the wake of the Ponderosa fire, which began on Aug. 29.

The fire, which is dwarfed by several larger blazes elsewhere in the state, has burned about 4,000 acres so far. It has destroyed 32 homes and was estimated at 56% contained, state officials said.

Elsewhere:

• The Salmon August Complex fire, near the Oregon border, has burned nearly 49,000 acres and was 15% contained;

• The Helena fire in Trinity County, northwest of Redding, has burned about 7,400 acres and destroyed 72 homes; it was 6% contained;

• The Pier fire, in Tulare County, north of Bakersfield, has burned about 17,400 acres and was 0% contained.

In the Pier fire, a mandatory evacuation order was in place near the town of Springville, with more than 1,200 firefighters on site. But a few residents chose to stay to look after their properties and help firefighters.

 

“We have some grit to stay here,” Michelle Ray told KMPH-TV. “I know it was mandatory. I was afraid to leave, but they won't let you back in.”

 

Ray said she and about a dozen others decided to remain in their homes near Camp Nelson, in the Sequoia National Forest.

“My husband and I own a water company,” she said. “We stayed to make sure the engines would have water.”

In Los Angeles, the La Tuna Canyon fire, a nearly 5,900-acre blaze burning in mountains north of downtown, has destroyed three homes, closed a stretch of the 210 Freeway and forced hundreds of area residents to evacuate, the Los Angeles Timesreported. The fire sent two firefighters to hospitals for dehydration, city officials said.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a local emergency, with officials calling La Tuna the largest by acreage in L.A.’s history. Brown on Sunday also issued an emergency proclamation for Los Angeles County due to the fire.

Firefighters were hoping that moisture from Tropical Storm Lidia might help fight the blaze.

Follow Greg Toppo on Twitter: @gtoppo

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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