Northern California community cancels Fourth of July fireworks due to wildfire

July 4, 2024

Fourth of July fireworks canceled due to Thompson Fire

Officials in a Northern California community canceled their annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration as the Thompson Fire displaced approximately 26,000 residents.

Firefighters worked under extreme heat to prevent the flames from reaching more homes.

The Thompson Fire started before noon on Tuesday, about 70 miles north of Sacramento, near Oroville in Butte County.

It has grown to over 5.5 square miles, sending up a plume of smoke visible from space.

Oroville Mayor David Pittman reported a decrease in fire activity on Wednesday, expressing hope that some residents might soon return home.

Firefighters stopped the fire’s progress on the southern edge and were building containment lines on the northern side.

By Wednesday evening, containment was at 7%.

Efforts and challenges faced by firefighters

More than a dozen other fires, mostly small, were active across California, as reported by Cal Fire.

A new fire in Simi Valley prompted brief evacuations on Wednesday.

The largest fire in the state, the Basin Fire, covered nearly 22 square miles in the Sierra National Forest and was 26% contained.

In Oroville, a state of emergency was declared on Tuesday night, and evacuation centers were set up.

The evacuation zone expanded on Wednesday to include foothills and rural areas beyond the city of about 20,000 people.

Authorities emphasized the ban on fireworks in many places, including most of Butte County, citing ongoing evacuations and damage caused by the Thompson Fire.

California State Parks officials stated that multiple agencies are responding to the blaze and working to get residents back home.

They noted: “These agencies also have employees with families displaced by these evacuations who are tirelessly assisting the community of Lake Oroville.”

Community impact and safety measures

Butte County Sheriff Kory L. Honea warned against the illegal use of fireworks: “Don’t be an idiot, cause a fire and create more problems for us. No one in the community is going to want that.”

There were no immediate reports on property losses.

An Associated Press photographer witnessed fire consuming three suburban-style homes in Oroville.

Gusty winds fanned the flames, igniting grass along Lake Oroville’s edges and American flags lining the reservoir’s bend.

Residents watched the orange glow from hillsides as aircraft made water drops.

Fire crews managed to save one home, while farm animals fled.

The fire’s cause is under investigation.

Red flag warnings for critical fire weather conditions were in place when the fire started.

Garrett Sjolund, Cal Fire’s Butte County unit chief, noted the severity of current conditions: “The fuels are very dense, brush is dry. And as you can see, any wind will move a fire out very quickly.”

In response to the dangerous conditions, Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power in parts of Northern California to prevent fires from downed or damaged wires.

Southern California faces similar threats

In Southern California, officials at Joshua Tree National Park closed Covington Flats on Wednesday due to extreme fire conditions.

The area is known for its significant Joshua tree populations.

Firefighters across California continue to battle numerous blazes, working tirelessly to protect communities and prevent further damage.

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