LOS ANGELES, (Xinhua) — The Tamarack Fire, which has been burning for two weeks, grew to 58,417 acres (236.4 square km) by 8,000 acres (32.4 square km) on Friday morning with only 4 percent contained, prompting new evacuation orders for about 1,400 residents nearby.
Ignited by lightning strike on July 4 in California’s Alpine County, bordering the state of Nevada, the blaze exploded in size on Thursday after sparking a spot fire east of Highway 395, a main route running through the mountains, according to Inciweb, an interstate incident information system.
As the fire rampaged across the highway and became well established on both sides, new evacuation orders were issued on Friday for communities along the highway corridor, raising the number of evacuees to 2,439, local media reported.
The fire also destroyed at least 10 buildings and forced the cancellation of Death Ride, an annual cycling race, leaving thousands of riders and spectators stranded, USA Today reported last Saturday.
More than 1,300 personnel from across the country have been helping battle the blaze, whose quick expansion on Thursday forced them to regroup and take a tactical pause, Inciweb said.
A video clip posted online Friday shows a group of firefighters drove straight through the inferno but remained untouched, making a narrow escape from the fast-moving Tamarack Fire as they battled it.
Despite lighter winds forecasted for Friday night, fire crews expected the fire to remain active due to the vast amount of dry forest on the ground and heat in the forecast.
“Burning conditions expected to be similar to Thursday with continued extreme to active fire behavior. Fire spread primarily to the north and east,” the Inciweb said in a prediction of the situation in the coming 24 hours, adding the fire could be contained by Aug. 31.