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Thousands of people evacuated in Northern California due to wildfires 

Approximately 28,000 residents in northern California have been mandated to evacuate as wildfires escalate throughout the state amidst a heatwave. The National Weather Service forecasts persistently hazardous conditions with scorching temperatures, dry air, and strong winds, potentially reaching up to 118°F (47°C) in some regions early next week.

Evacuation orders have been issued due to the outbreak of the Thompson Fire, as reported by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire). In response, the city of Oroville, near the fire’s origin, cancelled its Fourth of July fireworks display, urging the public to refrain from using fireworks to prevent further fires.

Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Butte County to mobilise additional resources. The Thompson Fire, which began in Oroville—roughly 70 miles north of Sacramento—on Tuesday, has grown to approximately 3,500 acres and is only 7% contained. 

This city is located about 20 miles from Paradise, a town devastated by the Camp Fire in 2018 that claimed 85 lives and has faced subsequent fires in recent years.

California’s fire season, which typically lasts until October, has just begun, with the scale and intensity of fires increasing over recent years. Research indicates a fivefold increase in burned areas during summer months from 1996 to 2021 compared to the previous 24-year period, a change scientists link to human-induced climate change.

This week, the National Weather Service issued excessive heat and red flag warnings across the state due to extreme risks of heat stress and illness due to the extreme weather.

CalFire reports that around two dozen fires exceeding 10 acres have ignited across the state since late June. The largest of these, covering nearly 14,000 acres, is in Fresno County. While there have been no fatalities, 74 structures have been either destroyed or damaged.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said, “The last thing we need is someone igniting fireworks and causing another fire.” He noted the area had experienced four fires in the past couple of weeks, warning that the threat remains high.

Rick Carhart, a local CalFire spokesman, informed the San Francisco Chronicle that the evacuation order affects 28,000 people in the Oroville area. The California State Parks system added that responders to the fire include personnel whose families have been displaced by the evacuations and who are actively supporting the Lake Oroville community.

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