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More than 6,000 people evacuated as wildfire ravages California

More than 6,000 people have been evacuated as a massive wildfire in California spread aggressively on Sunday, burning several thousand acres and forcing evacuations, at a time when America is going through a heat wave scorching with record high temperatures, according to an AFP report.

More than 2,000 firefighters supported by 17 helicopters have been deployed to the Oak Fire, which broke out near Yosemite National Park on Friday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) said in a report.

Two days after it started, the fire had already consumed more than 14,200 acres and remained at zero percent as heat combined with low humidity hampered efforts on Sunday.

“The extreme dry conditions led to critical levels of fuel moisture,” according to the CAL FIRE report.

Described as “explosive” by authorities, the blaze left ash, destroyed vehicles and twisted remains of property in its wake, as emergency personnel worked to evacuate residents and protect structures in its path.

It has already destroyed 10 properties and damaged five others, and thousands more are threatened.

“It was scary when we left because we were getting ash on us, but we had such a visual of this swelling. It just seemed like it was over our house and it was coming very quickly,” said a woman who had to be evacuated, Lynda. Reynolds-Brown, told local news station KCRA.

“Explosive fire behavior is a challenge for firefighters,” the California Fire Department said.

More than 6,000 people were evacuated and 10 houses destroyed.

A state of emergency has been declared in Mariposa County, which will allow the state to access federal assistance to fight the fires.

The scale of the blaze at the start of the California wildfire season is staggering and officials have warned that a combination of drought, climate change and encroaching vegetation pose significant challenges and increase the risk of rapid spread fire.

Yosemite National Park, which lies northeast of where Oak Fire burns, is home to some of the tallest and oldest redwoods in the world. The redwoods were threatened by another fire earlier this month, but firefighters managed to save them.

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