THOUSANDS of people have been evacuated in California due to wildfires as firefighters battle to contain a blaze which has destroyed more than 15,000 hectares of land.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said the fire was moving east and headed to the Yosemite National Park.
It was struggling to prevent it from spreading with an area half the size of Paris already destroyed, spokesman Justin Macomb said on Sunday evening.
“The fire quickly outflanked us. We couldn’t even attack it with the resources that we had on hand,” he said. “In my career, I haven’t seen fire behaviour like that.”
A Cal Fire report blamed extreme drought for creating the conditions that allowed the fire to spread so rapidly and said that it was zero per cent contained.
Air tankers, bulldozers and hand crews were struggling with the blaze described by officials as “explosive” as emergency services evacuated those in its path.
On Saturday Californian Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Mariposa, warning that the fire posed “extreme peril to the safety of persons and property.”
California and the west coast have been hit by wildfires due to years of drought, with scientists blaming global warming.
Similar fires have ravaged parts of Europe including Spain and Portugal. At least 14,000 have been evacuated in the south of France.
Last Friday the World Health Organisation called for close co-operation from world governments to meet the Paris Agreement and reduce global temperatures.
Climate scientists predict greater weather extremes over the next decade but few the situation will worsen unless collective action is taken, including a reduction in global carbon emissions.