California Wildfires 2015: State of Emergency Declared as Thousands Flee Their Homes
California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency after wildfires forced thousands of people to flee their homes in the north of the state.
He said the fires had destroyed buildings in the Napa and Lake counties and threatened hundreds of others.
More than 1,300 people fled Middletown, north of San Francisco, as their homes were consumed by the flames.
Four firefighters who were badly burned are receiving treatment in hospital.
The fires across northern California are being blamed on high temperatures and years of drought.
California spent $212 million fighting the flames in July alone, California’s forestry and fire protection department spokesman Daniel Berlant told the AFP news agency.
Daniel Berlant said more than 275 homes and other buildings had been destroyed and the Red Cross is opening emergency shelters for evacuated residents.
One blaze, the Valley Fire, which started on September 12 in Lake County, is said to have burned 40,000 acres.
It was reported to have reached the center of the small town of Middletown on September 13. Its 1,500 residents had already been ordered to evacuate.
The fire spread quickly and witnesses saw flames reach up to 200ft in the air, according to local news reports.
Further east, in Amador and Calaveras counties, around 4,000 firefighters are battling the Butte Fire, which broke out on September 9.
That blaze has so far destroyed around 65,000 acres along with 86 homes and 51 outbuildings. It is only 15% contained and threatens more than 6,000 other buildings, officials say.
Further south, beyond Fresno, firefighters have been tackling the largest of the blazes, the so-called Rough Fire, which has claimed 128,800 acres since it began in late July.
Nearly 3,000 firefighters are tackling that blaze, which is now said to be 29% contained.
They have evacuated the Kings Canyon National Park and working to protect the park’s famous grove of Giant Sequoia trees.