A wildfire that broke out in California’s Capital Region just days ago was spiraling out of control on Wednesday after spanning about 215 miles2.

At least two victims had to be taken to hospital by helicopter after the blaze, dubbed Caldor Fire, devastated a small town about 80 kilometers from Sacramento in the upstate.

Thousands of residents were preparing to flee the advancing flames that have ravaged the Eldorado National Forest since August 14, thanks to extreme drought and sustained winds. “Please, please listen to the warnings, and when you are asked to evacuate, go!” California Fire Chief Thom Porter said as quoted by the newspaper Sacramento Bee.

“We need you not to be in our paws so that we can protect your homes from these fires,” he said.

The fire increased its surface area eightfold in the space of 24 hours and was not at all contained at the end of the day on Wednesday, according to the latest report established by the firefighters.

Fire chain

the Caldor Fire is just one of dozens of blazes ravaging the chronic drought-stricken western United States further exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

Further north, the Dixie Fire remained active for more than a month after birth. Despite more than 6,000 firefighters mobilized, the disaster was only 33% contained. It consumed more than 2,500 km2 – an area equivalent to that of Luxembourg -, which makes it the second fire in the history of California.

Images taken by an AFP photographer bear witness to the height of the flames engulfing the trees along a road where firefighters are trying to stop their progress. Too late for the small town of Janesville, lined with charred car wrecks.

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Thick fumes from multiple wildfires triggered an air quality alert for residents of the San Francisco area, while energy provider PG&E had to cut power to some 50 000 customers Tuesday. The operator, whose equipment could have played a role in the birth of the Dixie Fire, explained that these cuts were intended to prevent power lines from causing new fires if they fell on dry vegetation like straw.

The number and intensity of forest fires have increased in recent years in the western United States, with a marked extension of the fire season.

According to experts, this phenomenon is particularly linked to global warming: the increase in temperature, the increase in heat waves and the drop in precipitation in places form an ideal incendiary cocktail.

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