California wildfire traps campers in national forest

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A plume of smoke from the El Dorado Fire is seen from the Interstate 10 in Loma Linda, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. In Southern California, a fast-moving fire in the foothills of Yucaipa has prompted evacuation orders for Oak Glen, a farm community that just opened its apple-picking season to the public. Cal Fire's San Bernardino unit said the fire has scorched at least 800 acres and was burning at a "moderate to dangerous" rate of spread. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

SHAVER LAKE, Calif. – Three fast-spreading California wildfires sent people fleeing Saturday, with one trapping campers at a reservoir in the Sierra National Forest, as a brutal heat wave pushed temperatures into triple digits in many parts of state.

The wildfire burning near Shaver Lake exploded to 56 square miles (145 square kilometers), jumped a river and compromised the only road into the Mammoth Pool Campground, national forest spokesman Dan Tune said. At least 2,000 structures were threatened in the area about 290 miles (467 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, where temperatures in the city's San Fernando Valley reached 117 degrees.

The Fresno Fire Department tweeted late Saturday night that 63 people were rescued from the campground by military helicopters and that two of them were severely injured, 10 were moderately injured and 51 others had minor or no injuries.

The Madera County Sheriff's Department said in a tweet earlier Saturday that about 150 people were at the campground's boat launch, and 10 of them were injured. “All are safe at this time," the department tweeted.

Officers also were evacuating Beasore Meadows. a large ranch in the Sierra National Forest, on Saturday night, the department tweeted.

The Sacramento Bee reported that agencies were coordinating an aircraft rescue for crews to come and safely evacuate them.

Tune said the campers were told to shelter in place until fire crews, aided by water-dropping aircraft, could gain access to the site. Tune said he didn’t know how close the fire was burning to the campsite.

“All our resources are working to make that escape route nice and safe for them,” he said.