A pair of California wildfires has quickly spread, threatening hundreds of homes and forcing evacuations at a popular lakeside campground and a summer camp where flames temporarily trapped children and counselors, a fire official said.
In other parts of the West, evacuation orders were lifted in Colorado and Montana towns threatened by wildfires, while air and ground crews battled a growing grass fire in northwestern Colorado.
The fire that started early Saturday afternoon in California's Santa Barbara County had spread to both sides of Highway 154 and was "completely out of control," county fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said. About 90 children and 50 counselors were struck at the Circle V Ranch and had to take shelter there until they could be safely evacuated.
The Santa Barbara County fire was one of three in California that grew quickly as much of the state baked in heat that broke records. A record that stood 131 years in Los Angeles was snapped when the temperature spiked at 98 degrees downtown. The previous record of 95 degrees was set in 1886, the National Weather Service said.
Excessive heat sent Southern Californians flocking to beaches and in search of water, shade and air conditioning to escape the heat.
Additionally, some 180 wildfires raged over a massive section of Western Canada's British Columbia on Saturday, prompting the evacuation of 3,000 households and the province's first state of emergency in 14 years.
The blazes were scattered across hundreds of kilometers of the interior portion of the province, burning through bone-dry forests used for logging and rolling grasslands that are home to ranches. High temperatures and winds complicated firefighting efforts.
"The weather situation is not favorable," said John Rustad, provincial minister in charge of firefighting operations. "There is very aggressive fire behavior that makes it very difficult to directly attack."
The spate of wildfires began on Friday, when 138 new fires were reported, most of them sparked by lightning in dry electrical storms.
No injuries or deaths were reported. Provincial officials said they did not know how much damage had been caused, though evacuees said they had left behind farm animals and witnessed destruction of homes and other buildings.
Canada's federal government on Saturday offered to help British Columbia respond to the fast-spreading wildfires, though provincial authorities said they may have enough resources already.
Rustad said that he expected about 260 personnel from other jurisdictions in Canada to support a team of more than 1,600 people helping respond to the fire.
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