California wildfires: Hikers rescued as blazes rage

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Rescuers in California have been airlifting dozens of people trapped by a huge fire, as crews continue to battle blazes across the state.

An initial attempt to rescue the group, stranded in mountain refuge for two nights, was abandoned on Monday night because of smoke from the Creek Fire.

But helicopters were able to land early on Tuesday and are have begun taking the hikers to safety.

Fires in California have burned through a record 2m acres in recent weeks.

In total, these blazes span larger than the US state of Delaware.

California is currently experiencing an unprecedented heatwave.

Los Angeles County reported its highest-ever temperature of 49.4C (121F) on Sunday. Temperatures have dropped since then, but high winds are expected to fan the flames until Wednesday.

More than 14,000 firefighters are battling 25 major blazes in California.

The Creek Fire is the largest one. It broke out in the Sierra Mountains – a major tourism spot – north-east of Fresno on Friday.

The fire has burned more than 135,000 acres and none of it has been contained, Fresno fire chief Tony Escobedo said late on Monday.

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Where were people rescued?

Early on Tuesday morning, the California National Guard began efforts to rescue a group of about 50 hikers trapped by the Creek Fire. They had been forced to shelter at the Vermilion Valley Resort in Sierra Nevada National Park on Sunday,

Beginning at 03:15 local time (10:00 GMT), helicopters were dispatched for three separate rescue flights in the China Peak and Lake Edison areas.

Photos posted by the Vermilion Valley Resort showed hikers lining up to board an awaiting helicopter.

On Monday night, the first rescue attempt had been suspended.

"The difficulty of the helicopters trying to get through the smoke has proven a challenge during the day," fire chief Escobedo told reporters at the time.

At the weekend, 200 hikers were rescued from the area. The fire has devastated the small town of Big Creek, destroying at least two dozen homes, the Los Angeles Times reports.

What about the other fires?

Valley Fire in San Diego County has burned through more than 17,000 acres, and prompted the evacuation of the remote town of Alpine.

Bobcat fire in Angeles National Forest has destroyed nearly 5,000 acres and forced the evacuation of the Mount Wilson Observatory.

Another blaze, the El Dorado fiRead More – Source