California wildfires 2022: map of areas affected including Mill Fire, Route Fire and Border 32

Two people have died in a wildfire in Klamath National Forest, California

Thousands of people remain under evacuation orders after a wind-whipped wildfire raged through rural northern California.

A number of people were injured when the fire that began on Friday afternoon on or near a wood products plant quickly blew into a neighbourhood on the northern edge of Weed, but then carried the flames away from the small city.

Evacuees described heavy smoke and chunks of ash raining down.

It is the latest wildfire in one of the biggest states in the United States.

Where is the fire?

Mill Fire is currently in northern California, near the border with Oregon.

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It was pushed by 35mph winds and quickly engulfed 4sq miles of ground.

The flames raced through tinder-dry grass, brush and timber.

About 7,500 people in the town of Weed, California and several nearby communities were under evacuation orders.

CASTAIC, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: Residents who were evacuated from their home watch as the Route Fire burns on August 31, 2022 near Castaic, California. Evacuations have been ordered as the brush fire has scorched more than 4,600 acres and closed down the 5 freeway at the start of a brutal heat wave in Southern California. The National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Warning for most of Southern California through Labor Day. Climate models almost unanimously predict that heat waves will become more intense and frequent as the planet continues to warm. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

It is the third large wildfire in as many days in California, which has been in the grip of a prolonged drought and is now sweltering under a heatwave that is expected to push temperatures past 37C in many areas through Labour Day.

Thousands were also ordered to flee on Wednesday from a fire in Castaic, north of Los Angeles, and a blaze in eastern San Diego County near the Mexican border left two people severely burned and several homes destroyed. Those fires are now 56% and 65% contained, respectively, and all evacuations have been lifted.

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CASTAIC, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: Firefighters work as a tow truck prepares to tow away the trailer of a truck while the Route Fire burns nearbyon August 31, 2022 near Castaic, California. Evacuations have been ordered as the brush fire has scorched more than 4,600 acres and closed down the 5 freeway at the start of a brutal heat wave in Southern California. The National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Warning for most of Southern California through Labor Day. Climate models almost unanimously predict that heat waves will become more intense and frequent as the planet continues to warm. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

What has the state of California said?

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Siskyou County and said a federal grant had been received “to help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress the fire”.

At about the time the blaze started, power outages were reported that affected some 9,000 customers, and several thousand remained without electricity late into the night, according to an outage website for power company PacifiCorp, which said they were due to the wildfire.

Are there any other wildfires in California?

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Cal Fire’s website has a tracker of wildfires currently on-going in the state.

Mill Fire is the latest blaze but it is not the only one in the state.

Route Fire - which is 56% contained - and Border 32 fire - 65% contained - are in southern California.

Mountain Fire is another big fire.

Here is a screen shot of the map from Cal Fire’s website:

Screenshot from CalFire’s website. Picture: CalFire

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How have residents reacted to the wildfire?

Evacuees described heavy smoke and chunks of ash raining down.

Annie Peterson said she was sitting on the porch of her home near Roseburg Forest Products, which manufactures wood veneers, when “all of a sudden we heard a big boom and all that smoke was just rolling over toward us”.

Very quickly her home and about a dozen others were on fire. She said members of her church helped evacuate her and her son, who is immobile. She said the scene of smoke and flames looked like “the world was coming to an end”.

Allison Hendrickson, spokeswoman for Dignity Health North State hospitals, said two people were brought to Mercy Medical Centre Mount Shasta. One was in a stable condition and the other was transferred to UC Davis Medical Centre, which has a burns unit.

Rebecca Taylor, of Roseburg Forest Products, said it is unclear if the fire started near or on company property. A large empty building had burned, she said, but all employees were evacuated and none have reported injuries.

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Californians urged to conserve power

Saturday will be the fourth consecutive day of requests by the state’s electrical grid operator for voluntary cutbacks during late afternoon and evening hours to balance supply and demand as millions of residents endure high temperatures.

The California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO) said multiple generators have been forced out of service because of the extreme heat, which has reached the high 30Cs in some places, making energy supplies tighter.

Electricity demand on Thursday hit a peak of 47,357 megawatts, the highest since September 2017. Cal ISO credited conservation and reduced commercial use with keeping the grid stable.

“The major concern now is even higher temperatures forecast for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, with projected loads climbing to more than 49,000 megawatts on Tuesday,” Cal ISO said in a statement.

Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday declared an emergency to increase energy production and relaxed rules aimed at curbing air pollution and global warming gases. He emphasised the role climate change is playing in the heatwave.

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The National Weather Service said: “September is off to a searing start in the West with record breaking temperatures and fire weather expected to expand and settle over that part of the country this Labour Day weekend.”