About 150 people have been trapped by a raging wildfire near Mammoth Pool Reservoir in northern California, where officials warned they may have to jump into the water to survive.
The Madera County Sheriff’s office said in a statement on Saturday night that approximately 150 people were sheltering-in-place at the reservoir in Sierra National Forrest with 10 injuries reported.
Evacuation routes are blocked and people in the area were told to shelter in place — even if that means getting into the water, officials said.
Fire radio traffic indicated that multiple people had sustained burn injuries and others broken bones in the Creek Fire, and were being rescued by helicopter at the Mammoth Pool Reservoir.
The first National Guard Chinook to depart loaded more than 50 people, with up to 20 of them requiring immediate medical transport, scanner traffic indicated.
In a statement, the Sierra National Forrest said that 53 individuals were rescued from the Mammoth Pool boat launch area, and will be evaluated for injuries.
The reservoir is roughly 90 miles east of Fresno. Earlier reports that up to 1,000 people were trapped were later revised.
The Creek Fire is threatening a range of mountain resources, including structures, communities and power lines.
The fire had burned 36,000 acres and was 0 percent contained as of 7.30pm on Saturday.
It is one of several wildfires ravaging the Sierra National Forrest 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, 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 north of Los Angeles, where temperatures in the city’s San Fernando Valley reached 117 degrees.
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.
The lake 35 miles northeast of Fresno is surrounded by thick pine forests and is a popular destination for boating and fishing. Bone-dry conditions and the hot weather fueled the flames.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Keith Griffith; The Associated Press