[IN IMAGES] A violent fire continues to spread in California, thousands of evacuees

[IN PICTURES] Violent fire continues to spread in California, thousands evacuated

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CALIFORNIA | A violent fire that has struck a Californian forest since Friday continued to spread on Sunday, causing the evacuation of thousands of people, while very high heat affects tens of millions of Americans across the country.  

Fire, christened Oak Fire, extends near Yosemite National Park and its famous giant sequoias. It “has expanded significantly in the northern portion, moving further into the Sierra National Forest,” according to a Sunday bulletin from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Favored by “extreme drought”, by winds and rising temperatures, the fire, which is being fought by some 2,000 firefighters, has burned at least 5,500 hectares of forest, destroyed 10 properties, damaged five others and threatens more than 2,500, a spokeswoman for this department told AFP.

More than 6,000 people, mostly living in small towns at high altitude, had already been evacuated on Saturday, according to a another spokesperson for the California Fire Department, quoted by the Los Angeles Times newspaper. A state of emergency has been declared by state governor Gavin Newsom.

Yosemite Park, one of the most famous in the world, had experienced a fire in mid-July, the flames of which had threatened its giant sequoias.

The American West has already experienced, in recent years, wildfires of exceptional magnitude and intensity, with a very marked lengthening of the fire season, a phenomenon that scientists attribute to climate change.

Oak Fireis one of the most dramatic manifestations of the heat wave affecting the United States this weekend, in the northwest, center and northeast. A map from the National Weather Service (NWS) shows a very large part of the country, including California, all of the south, and then much of the east coast, affected by temperatures between 37°C and 43°C.< /p>

“It will be extremely oppressive, especially in the major metropolitan areas of Washington, New York and Boston,” the NWS wrote on Twitter.

“Scientists predict these events extraordinary and catastrophic for decades now,” former US Vice President Al Gore, who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his commitment to the climate, reaffirmed on ABC News on Sunday. 

“Today they say that if we don't stop using our atmosphere as a garbage can, and if we don't stop these heat-trapping [greenhouse gas] emissions, things will get worse. More people will be killed and the survival of our civilization is at stake,” he added.