Evacuations ordered as new California wildfire erupts amid scorching heat wave

On July 4, scorching temperatures sparked wildfires in California, with meteorologists warning that the coming days could be dangerously hot.

While much of the country is battling a record-breaking heat wave that will make conditions dangerously hot, a massive fire near Yosemite National Park has prompted evacuations and forced hospital patients to stay home.

The French Fire, in Mariposa County, California, started Thursday. By Friday evening, the fire was 15% contained, having burned 908 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Some residents of Mariposa were allowed to return home Friday evening, but an evacuation warning and mandatory evacuation order remained in effect for other areas.

Footage taken in the area and posted to social media shows the sky lit up bright orange by huge flames, amid massive plumes of smoke. Another video shows a plane dropping fire retardant over a wooded area near Mariposa on Thursday.

According to the website PowerOutage.us, about 3,100 utility customers in Mariposa County were without power Friday evening.

In Northern California, the much larger Thompson Fire in Butte County is burning. The fire has burned nearly 9,500 acres and was 46% contained as of Friday evening.

The fire broke out Tuesday in Oroville, 65 miles north of Sacramento, forcing thousands of people to evacuate, though the “vast majority” of the 17,000 people who were under evacuation orders or warnings were able to return home Thursday, said Kristi Olio, Butte County public information officer.

Lynette Bailey told NBC News on Thursday that she rushed to take her 90-year-old father to a nearby shelter.

“I panicked because my dad didn’t want to leave and I told him, ‘You have to get in the car right now.’”

The Thompson Fire rages over Lake Oroville on Tuesday.Noah Berger / AP

But with no shelters left for her dog, Bailey has spent the last two days outside in the heat. “It’s really sad. I’m out here in these 108 degrees … I’m more worried about my dad,” she said.

Many Fourth of July festivities were canceled across California on Thursday as temperatures soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with some spots reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cal Fire and the Butte County Fire Department reported Thursday that a 61-year-old man was arrested Tuesday afternoon and accused of causing a backfire. It was a small, controlled fire that was intended to contain a larger fire. The fire was extinguished by firefighters.

“An individual was reported lighting a backfire on a property located on Oro Quincy Highway,” authorities said in a statement. The man admitted to starting the fire with a propane torch and was jailed on a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully starting a fire in wilderness.

Oroville was hit by the Camp Fire in 2018, which killed 85 people and displaced approximately 50,000.

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