A wildfire that broke out Friday near Yosemite National Park in California has burned several thousand acres and led to evacuations of 3,000 residents in the area, as an ongoing heat wave continued to bake much of the country over the weekend. (On Saturday, California's Death Valley reached 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and Palm Springs, Calif., hit 114 degrees.)
The fire has devoured more than 16,700 acres and is 10% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (also known as Cal Fire). The department said more than 2,000 firefighters, backed by 17 helicopters, have been deployed against the Oak Fire.
That fire has damaged or destroyed 15 properties and currently threatens thousands of homes and businesses, according to CBS News.
"Smoke from the fire — which can be seen from the International Space Station — prompted an air quality advisory for the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday," CBS News reported.
The risk of wildfires has been exacerbated by climate change, which has caused more frequent and severe heat waves and droughts. Currently, the West is enduring a two-decade mega-drought that has caused the water in the nation's largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, to drop to "critical levels," according to the federal government. “It’s hot out there again today,” Cal Fire spokesperson Natasha Fouts said Sunday. “And the fuel moisture levels are critically low.”
The Oak Fire began in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada near the small community of Midpines. Area resident Nick Smith told CNN his parents' home, where they lived for 37 years, had burned down.
"It's pretty sad to see the house that I grew up in and was raised in gone," Smith said. "It hits hard."
His parents had to evacuate so quickly, he said, that they couldn't bring many possessions. "They had just the clothes on their back and the shoes on their feet," he added.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared an emergency on Saturday. To ensure that the state has adequate resources to fight the fire, Newsom obtained a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
According to Cal Fire, the Oak Fire is the largest of six wildfires currently burning in the state.
Pacific Gas & Electric said on Sunday that more than 3,100 homes and businesses in the area had lost power.
Midpines is roughly 30 miles from Yosemite National Park, which is famous for its giant sequoia trees.