In a Facebook post, the Madera County Sherriff’s Office said officials rescued people from Mammoth Pool, a reservoir along the San Joaquin River located some 45 miles north of Fresno. They were evacuated as the Creek Fire descended on them, authorities said.
“We are relieved to announce the completed rescue of the people sheltering-in-place at Mammoth Pool. Over 200 have been evacuated to safety, 20 of those transported to area hospitals and any others in need of medical attention are being treated,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
A spokesman for the National Guard told CBS San Francisco that a Chinook military helicopter airlifted some of the evacuees to the Fresno Airport, adding some were “injured by the flame of the fire.”
Dozens of evacuees are evacuated to safety on a Cal Guard Chinook last night after the Creek Fire in central California left them stranded. Photo courtesy California National Guard. pic.twitter.com/mi7X6wchpN
— The California National Guard (@CalGuard) September 6, 2020
“A Blackhawk helicopter is also involved in the rescue,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma said. “At the airport, emergency response, fire and medical elements from the 144th Fighter Wing are on hand to assist. Both rotary wings are returning to the fire site to evacuate more people immediately.”
The Creek Fire started Friday and as of Monday, it has burned more than 135,000 acres, officials said.
“Mandatory Evacuations in place for the communities of Big Creek, Huntington Lake, Shaver Lake, and Cascadel Woods,” says the U.S. National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Inciweb website. “Evacuation warnings now in effect from Cressman Road—Auberry Road from the top of the four lanes to Powerhouse to the San Joaquin River. Also included are Jose Basin, Alder Spring, Mono Wind Casino, Meadow Lakes and Mile High,” it adds.
On Tuesday, three early morning helicopter flights rescued another 35 people from Sierra National Forest as a fire raged, the California National Guard said.
Two of the three largest fires in state history are burning in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 14,000 firefighters are battling those fires and about two dozen others around the state.
The fire danger also is high in Southern California, where fires were burning in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. The U.S. Forest Service on Monday decided to close all eight national forests in the region and to shutter campgrounds statewide.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.