Evacuations ordered after new wildfire breaks out in California during a scorching heatwave

Scorching temperatures on the Fourth of July fueled wildfires in California that raged through the night after meteorologists' warnings that dangerously high heat could prevail over the holiday proved true.

Much of the country is in the grip of a heat wave that is expected to break new daily temperature records and bring dangerous heat over the holiday weekend. A large, uncontrolled fire near Yosemite National Park has prompted evacuations and forced hospital patients to stay home.

The fire in Mariposa County, California, started on Thursday and was 0% contained by Friday morning. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 369 acres had burned.

A mandatory evacuation order was issued for almost the entire city of Mariposa, and an evacuation warning was issued for a large part of the east.

In a video posted on her Facebook page, Regina Lewis said that in the town of Mariposa, “the entire mountain above the high school was on fire” and had reached a predominantly residential street.

Other footage taken in the area and posted on social media shows the sky lit bright orange by huge flames amid enormous clouds of smoke. Another video shows a plane dropping fire retardant over a wooded area near Mariposa on Thursday.

According to the website, nearly 3,500 energy customers were without power in Mariposa County on Friday morning.

In Northern California, the much larger Thompson Fire is still raging in Butte County, where it has burned nearly 3,800 acres and was 46% contained as of Friday morning.

The fire broke out in Oroville, 65 miles north of Sacramento, on Tuesday, forcing thousands of people to evacuate. But the “overwhelming majority” of the 17,000 people who were under evacuation orders or warnings were able to go home Thursday, said Kristi Olio, Butte County public information officer.

Lynette Bailey told NBC News on Thursday that she had to make desperate efforts to get her 90-year-old father safely to a nearby shelter.

“There was panic because my father didn't want to go and I told him, 'You have to get in the car right now.'”

Thompson Fire (Noah Berger / AP)

Thompson Fire (Noah Berger / AP)

But with no shelter spaces left for her dog, Bailey has spent the last two days outside in the heat. “It's really sad. I'm out here in these 100-degree heat… I'm more worried about my dad,” she said.

Many Independence Day celebrations in California on Thursday were canceled as temperatures exceeded 38 degrees and even reached 43 degrees in some places.

Cal Fire and the Butte County Fire Department said Thursday that a 61-year-old man named Harold Pulley was arrested Tuesday afternoon for allegedly starting a backfire, a small controlled fire intended to contain a larger fire that was extinguished by firefighters.

“An individual was observed starting a fire on a property near Oro Quincy Highway,” authorities said in a statement. Pulley admitted to starting the fire with a propane burner and was arrested on charges of arson in a wooded area.

Oroville was hit by the Camp Fire in 2018, which killed 85 people and left around 50,000 homeless.

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