At Least 224 Rescued After Being Trapped by California Wildfire Near Mammoth Pool Reservoir

The Madera County Sheriff's Office said at least 224 people were rescued from the blaze overnight

California Wildfires
California Wildfires. Photo: Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee via AP

Hundreds of people escaped a California wildfire raging through the Sierra National Forest on Saturday.

The Madera County Sheriff's Office said at least 224 people were rescued from the park's Mammoth Pool Reservoir overnight, according to CNN. About 20 were injured with broken bones and burns and two people had to be carried out on a stretcher.

Authorities previously estimated that approximately 150 people were "sheltering-in-place" while the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) was coordinating helicopter and ground rescue missions. The Cal OES later confirmed on Sunday that 200 people had been "air rescued."

"The situation only can be described as just hellish conditions out there for those poor people," Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue said in a statement to CNN.

The fire broke out Friday evening near Shaver Lake before it jumped a river and blocked the only road into the Mammoth Pool Campground.

Crews worked through the night to put out the blaze, however by Saturday morning, authorities had to issue evacuation and shelter-in-place orders.

"Once the fire gets going, it creates its own weather, adding wind to increase the spread,” national forest spokesman Dan Tune told the Associated Press.

California Wildfire
Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee via AP

About 450 firefighters were battling the blaze, along with three helicopters and three air tankers, according to the Forest Service.

"The column on a fire like this can be quite dangerous," Tune explained to CNN. "So the aircraft has had to back off for a time, and go back again once conditions change."

California has battled 900 wildfires since Aug. 15, the AP reports.

Many of them were onset by an intense series of lightning strikes and they have burned more than 1.5 million acres (2,343 square miles) of land. There have also been eight reported deaths.

The cause of the Sierra National Forest inferno is still under investigation.

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