Not less than 200 people trapped by a fast-moving wildfire near a popular recreation area in northern California have been airlifted to safety.
While disclosing this on Sunday September 6, 2020, officials said the evacuees climbed aboard military helicopters after the blaze, in bone-dry conditions, cut off ground escape routes from Mammoth Pool Reservoir in the Sierra National Forest, about 45 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Fresno.
Flames moved in so fast that at one point people were advised to "shelter in place" – in the reservoir itself if need be.
"Simply extraordinary, lifesaving work by the @CalGuard airlifting more than 200 people to safety overnight from the imminent danger of the #CreekFire," army General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said on Twitter.
Twenty of the evacuees were transported to area hospitals, the Madera County Sheriff's Office reported on Twitter.
At least two were seriously injured, according to the Fresno Fire Department.
Hokanson tweeted a dramatic picture taken from the cockpit of a helicopter showing it surrounded by blazing trees.
He said dozens of those rescued had been brought to California National Guard facilities and were met by military medics and civilian first responders.
"The Creek Fire consumed more than 14,500 hectares (36,000 acres) and threatened numerous mountain communities after igniting on Friday and exploding on Saturday," authorities said.
California has been baking with record-breaking temperatures expected over the Labor Day weekend, bringing dangerous fire weather conditions.