The California National Guard was deployed over the weekend to save hundreds of campers stranded by wildfire.
The guard used helicopters to rescue over 200 people, according to a report from CBS San Fransisco, “as a wall of flames from the fast-moving Creek Fire burning in the Sierra bore down on them.”
The Golden State in flames
According to CBS San Fransisco, the so-called Creek Fire started Friday. By Saturday, the flames covered 56 square miles, the CBS affiliate reported, quickly eating up roads and stranding hundreds of campers in the Sierra.
With the only road to safety now cut off, campers were advised to take shelter in place until a rescue effort could be coordinated and dispatched.
Pictures and videos posted to social media and shared by CBS San Francisco were nothing short of startling.
A backpacking trip cut short by unforeseen thunder, ash rain, and having to drive through literal fire to evacuate #SierraNationalForest in time. Grateful to the SNF ranger who led us down… wish we we got her name. #CreekFire @mercnews @sfchronicle @ABC7 @KTVU pic.twitter.com/37Ys7XGJ2a
— Juliana Park (@julipdoe) September 6, 2020
An “extraordinary” rescue effort
The rescue effort Saturday was described in an email from a National Guard spokesman to CBS San Francisco. Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma said some of those rescued “have been injured by the flames of the fire.”
“A Blackhawk helicopter is also involved in the rescue,” he reported.
Shiroma added: “At the airport, emergency response, fire and medical elements from the 144th Fighter Wing are on hand to assist. Both rotary wings are returning to the fire site to evacuate more people immediately.”
It was an effort the National Guard’s Daniel Hokanson called “simply extraordinary.”
Simply extraordinary, lifesaving work by the @CalGuard airlifting more than 200 people to safety overnight from the imminent danger of the #CreekFire The National Guard stands Always Ready, Always There to support our communities and nation in times of need. pic.twitter.com/MybDKESipJ
— General Daniel Hokanson (@ChiefNGB) September 6, 2020
Among those rescued, at least two people have been reported to have very serious injuries. At least another 10 reportedly suffered moderate injuries, according to CBS San Francisco.