Updated Sep 9, 2020 - Science

Helicopters rescue dozens from California's historic wildfires

The Creek Fire jumps CA-168 on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020 in Fresno County, CA.
The Creek Fire jumps State Route 168 in Fresno County, California, on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Pilots wearing night-vision goggles landed helicopters in California's burning Sierra National Forest to save 164 people trapped by flames and were working to rescue 17 others, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said during a news conference Tuesday.

What's happening: Firefighters are battling more than two dozen major blazes, as PG&E cut power to 170,000 customers in a safety shutdown.

Catch up quick:

  • In the Los Padres National Forest on California's central coast, 14 firefighters and bulldozer operators became surrounded by flames at the Nacimiento Station, leaving one critically wounded and others with burns and smoke inhalation damage, AP reports.
  • The National Forest Service temporarily closed forests, trails and campgrounds across the state on Monday evening because of the wildfires, the Los Angeles Times reports. All in Southern California were closed. The agency closed eight more forests on Tuesday.
  • "Most of California remains under the threat of unprecedented and dangerous fire conditions with a combination of extreme heat, significant wind events, dry conditions, and firefighting resources that are stretched to the limit," the National Park Service said in a statement.
  • Huntington Lake volunteer fire chief Chris Donnelly told NBC News that the rapidly growing Creek Fire charred "at least two dozen homes" after sweeping the area Saturday night, when it trapped dozens of campers, who had to be evacuated by helicopter.
  • The Creek Fire has razed more than 143,900 acres and was not contained at all Tuesday night, per Cal Fire.
  • A "smoke generating pyrotechnic device, used during a gender reveal party" caused the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County, Cal Fire said. The fire has razed more than 10,500 acres and was 16% contained Tuesday.

The big picture: Newsom has declared a statewide emergency due to the widespread fires and extreme weather conditions. President Trump has issued a major disaster declaration for the state.

Go deeper: California wildfires raze a record 2 million acres

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details on the fires and the weather and to include PG&E's announcement.

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