US bakes in record heatwave
A California wildfire ripped through thousands of acres Saturday after being sparked a day earlier, as millions of Americans sweltered through scorching heat with already record-setting temperatures due to climb.
The heat wave encompassing multiple regions has increased the risk of blazes, such as the major Oak Fire, which broke out Friday in California near Yosemite National Park, where giant sequoias have already been threatened by flames in recent days.
The fire -- described as "explosive" by officials -- grew from about 600 acres to around 11,900 acres within 24 hours.
More than 6,000 people had been evacuated, said Hector Vasquez, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection official, as the fire remained uncontained as of Saturday evening.
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday declared a "state of emergency" in Mariposa County, citing "conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property."
The blaze left ashes, gutted vehicles and twisted remains of properties in its wake, as emergency personnel worked to evacuate residents and protect structures in its path.
More than 500 firefighters are working to extinguish the flames and are being assisted by aircraft, Vasquez said. Officials cited by the Los Angeles Times said it could take a week to contain.
Evidence of global warming could be seen elsewhere in the country, as more than a dozen states were under a heat advisory.
The central and northeast US regions face the brunt of the extreme temperatures, which are not expected to peak until Sunday at the earliest and have sent public health officials scrambling.
Central US metropolitan areas such as Dallas and Oklahoma City were expected to reach highs of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (above 38 degrees Celsius) for at least the next five days.
A heat emergency is in effect for cities up and down the northeast coast, from Boston to Philadelphia to Washington. Not even the usually cool Pacific Northwest will escape the far-reaching heat, with the region expected to face several days in the 90s next week.
Across the Atlantic, Greece yesterday battled three major wildfires across the country which forced hundreds to evacuate.
The country is in the grip of a heatwave that began on Saturday and is expected to last 10 days. Temperatures were set to rise to 42 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit) in some regions.