Washington, Europe Brief News- A fast-moving wildfire in California continues to grow in size, forcing thousands of residents from their homes.
The Oak fire started on Friday near the town of Midpines, California, and exploded in size over the weekend.
Burning through dense and dry vegetation on the region’s steep and rugged hillsides, the blaze was fanned by gusty winds and temperatures that hovered around 100F (38C).
The extreme nature of the fire meant it turned tall trees into match-sticks and sent billowing black smoke curling over the quaint historic downtown of Mariposa.
More than 6,000 people have been evacuated and 10 structures destroyed.
A further 3,271 structures – both homes and businesses – are under threat, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reported.
At a community meeting on Sunday night, an official said they hoped the blaze, which started on Friday, would start to be contained “very soon”.
A state of emergency was declared in Mariposa County on Saturday, and will allow the state to access some federal assistance to tackle the fires.
The scale of the blaze marks an ominous start to California’s wildfire season and officials have warned that a combination of drought, climate change, and overgrown vegetation are posing significant challenges and increasing the chances of the fire spreading rapidly.
Much of the United States is sweltering through a heatwave and heat advisory warnings are in effect in more than a dozen states. Temperatures in Mariposa County hit 100F (38C) on Sunday, and are expected to stay high for the next few days.