California is witnessing two of its worst wildfires in history that have destroyed hundreds of Northern California homes and left many residents displaced.
Residents across a huge part of Northern California received warnings of “explosive” conditions as the fire intensified and spread rapidly across many counties.
By Monday evening, the California wildfires had engulfed 62,000 acres (24,690 hectares) of tinder-dry forests, grasslands, and brush. According to Cal Fire, the blaze was only 10 percent contained.
California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in all regions affected by the California wildfires. Residents have recounted horrifying stories of having to flee through enormous gauntlets of flame.
A 37-year-old construction worker, Steve Johnson, said, “That whole place was ablaze. It was like Armageddon.”
However, Johnson, along with his mother, managed to safely escape the threat. They spent the night at a school gymnasium that was functioning as a temporary evacuation center.
According to fire officials, the fire has been spreading at an unprecedented rate. The situation seems to be a natural consequence of desiccated vegetation after four years of drought and several weeks of scorching summer heat.
Communities hardest hit by the California wildfires include Harbin Hot Springs resort, Hidden Valley Lake, Middletown, and Cobb.
Reuters video footage shows the massive scene of destruction in Middletown which is a village of approximately 1,500 residents in California.
Middletown resident Janet Mondragon found herself in tears as she said, “We’re going to have to start life over. There is nothing, absolutely nothing.”
Approximately 23,000 people have lost their homes since the weekend due to the wildfires. Authorities have also confirmed the death of one woman. According to reports, several people are still missing.
A group of evacuated California residents will get the chance to briefly visit their fire-ravaged homes for rescuing leftover belongings.
In the wake of the disaster, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the Obama administration is urging Congress to change the way the federal government spends on fighting wildfires. The request was also purportedly made in Obama’s previous budget plans.
Earnest said that parts of the Interior Department and the Forest Service are using the money “that was originally dedicated to preventing forest fires to actually fight the forest fires.”
The White House is requesting Congress to revamp the funding system so that funds allotted towards preventing California wildfires remain protected.
[Image by David McNew/Getty Images News]