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California wildfires: Video from plane to LAX shows dense smoke

Ominous images captured by passengers aboard planes above California show them flying through thick clouds of smoke thousands of feet as devastating wildfires continue to rage across the state.

A Twitter user, identified as Gabriela, captured on video the moment her flight approached LAX airport for landing on Sunday, with a dense smog of grey and orange smoke surrounding the wing of the plane – completely obscuring the ground below.

Similar unsettling scenes were captured by family members of CNN’s Oliver Darcy on Sunday evening, who were flying out from Fresno to Salt Lake City.

An orange glare is seen breaking through the center of a billow of grey smoke. When sharing the pictures on Twitter, Darcy said that passengers aboard the flight could reportedly smell the smoke from the wildfires inside the cabin.

Fire Departments across California have battled more than 900 wildfires since August 15, many of which have been spurred by record-breaking temperatures and other freak weather conditions, including concentrations of thousands of lightning strikes in a number of different areas.

The blazes have burned more than 1.5 million acres – or 2,434 square miles, destroyed nearly 3,300 structures and caused eight deaths. 

Cal Fire said 14,800 firefighters were continuing to battle 23 major fires in the state as of Monday.

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Troubling scenes were captured by family members of CNN’s Oliver Darcy on Sunday evening, who were flying out from Fresno to Salt Lake City. An orange glare is seen breaking through the center of a billow of grey fumes

Darcy said that passengers aboard the flight could reportedly smell the smoke from the wildfires inside the cabin

A Twitter user, identified as Gabriela, captured on video the moment her flight approached LAX airport for landing on Sunday, with a dense smog of grey and orange smoke surrounding the wing of the plane and completely obscuring the ground below

While officials said the fires across the state were around 91 percent contained as of Monday morning, another devastating fire erupted in El Dorado on Saturday, so far destroying more than 7,000 acres of land with the blaze only five percent contained.

The fire, now burning around 70 miles east of Los Angeles, began when a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used at a gender reveal photo shoot set foliage alight.

Amid a record-breaking heatwave, with record temperatures of 121 degrees, the state has been turned into a tinder box, officials said.

The fire started on Saturday at 10:23am, and 527 people from 10 fire crews are currently trying to halt the fire’s progress.

It spread from the El Dorado Ranch Park north, onto the Yucaipa Ridge. The ridge separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the City of Yucaipa.

Bennet Milloy, spokesman for the department, told DailyMail.com that the people hosting the photo shoot were still on the scene when the firefighters arrived.

‘We know how it started because they were still there,’ he said. ‘That, and the fact that there were surveillance cameras in the park.’

Milloy said that it was a relatively small family gathering, and that the relatives had got together for a photo opportunity.

He did not know if they were local people, but he said they were potentially both civilly and criminally responsible for the fire – facing jail time and a massive fine. The family could be held responsible for the entire cost of putting the fire out, amounting to many millions of dollars, he said.

‘CAL FIRE reminds the public that with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire,’ the department said in a press release. ‘Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially responsible and criminally responsible.’

Fire Departments across California have battled more than 900 wildfires since August 15, many of which have been spurred by record-breaking temperatures and an intense freak series of thousands of lightning strikes (pictured: A firefighter douses flames as they push towards homes during the Creek fire in the Cascadel Wood)

The blazes have burned more than 1.5 million acres – or 2,434 square miles, destroyed nearly 3,300 structures and caused eight deaths

While officials said the fires across the state were around 91 percent contained as of Monday morning, another devastating fire erupted in El Dorado on Saturday morning, so far destroying more than 7,000 acres of land with the blaze only five percent contained

The El Dorado wildfire (pictured), which broke out on Saturday morning, was started by a gender reveal photo shoot, it has been confirmed

Amid a record-breaking heatwave, with record temperatures of 121 degrees turning the state into a tinder box, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said on Sunday night that a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device caused the fire (pictured)

The fire spread from the El Dorado Ranch Park north, onto the Yucaipa Ridge and into the San Bernardino National Forest

Satellite images on Saturday gave a sense of the scale of the El Dorado fire, which was started by a gender reveal photo shoot 

Temperatures in the fire zone were in the 90s while downtown Los Angeles reached 111 degrees. A record-shattering high of 121 degrees was recorded in the nearby Woodland Hills neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley.

It was the highest temperature ever recorded in Los Angeles County, according to the National Weather Service. It rivaled the high in California’s Death Valley, typically the hottest place in the country.

Meanwhile, downtown San Francisco set a record for the day with a high of 100F, smashing the previous mark by 5 degrees.

‘By our calculations, over 99 percent of California’s population is under an Excessive Heat Warning or Heat Advisory today,’ the weather service in Sacramento tweeted Sunday afternoon.

Elsewhere, in Northern California, rescuers in military helicopters airlifted 207 people to safety over the weekend after an explosive wildfire trapped them in a popular camping area in Sierra National Forest that has burned since Friday afternoon.

The California Office of Emergency Services said Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters were used for the rescues that began late Saturday and continued into Sunday morning at Mammoth Pool Reservoir.

At least two people were severely injured and 10 more suffered moderate injuries. Two campers refused rescue and stayed behind, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said, and there was no immediate word on their fates.

A photo tweeted by the California National Guard showed more than 20 evacuees packed tightly inside one helicopter, some crouched on the floor clutching their belongings. In another photo taken on the ground from a helicopter cockpit, the densely wooded hills surrounding the aircraft were in flames.

The blaze, dubbed the Creek Fire, has charred nearly 80,000 acres of timber, and the 800 firefighters on the scene had yet to get any containment after more than two days of work on steep terrain in sweltering heat.

A photo tweeted by the California National Guard showed mdozens of evacuees packed tightly inside one helicopter, some crouched on the floor clutching their belongings 

A business owner, who declined to give his name, looks up at the smoke-covered sky from the Creek Fire at his boat rental place on Sunday

The blaze, dubbed the Creek Fire, has charred nearly 80,000 acres of timber, and the 800 firefighters on the scene had yet to get any containment after more than three days of work on steep terrain in sweltering heat

Smoke from the Creek Fire billows beyond a ridge as seen from Huntington Lake on Saturday, September 5

Firefighter Ricardo Gomez, of a San Benito Monterey Cal Fire crew, sets a controlled burn while fighting the Creek Fire

At least two people were severely injured and 10 more suffered moderate injuries. Two campers refused rescue and stayed behind, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said, and there was no immediate word on their fates.

Embers fly off burning timber as flames push towards homes during the Creek fire in the Cascadel Woods area of unincorporated Madera County

Firefighters walk through the site near Shaver Lake as they continue to battle against the Creek Fire which started on Friday afternoon before spreading across 73,278 acres

Some homes and businesses have burned, but there was no official tabulation yet. Officials said at least 2,000 structures were threatened in the surrounding 290 miles of the blaze. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

‘The lake is totally engulfed with smoke. You can’t hardly see in front of you,’ area resident Jack Machado said. ‘The sky’s turning red. It looks like Mars out there.’

The exceptionally hot temperatures statewide were driving the highest power use of the year, and transmission losses because of the wildfires have cut into supplies. Eric Schmitt of the California Independent System Operator that manages the state´s power grid said up to 3 million customers faced power outages if residents didn’t curtail their electricity usage.

At 7pm on Sundaty, the California Independent System Operator declared an emergency and said power outages were imminent because a transmission line carrying power from Oregon to California and another in-state power plant went offline unexpectedly. The cause of the outages is unknown at this time, the agency said.

By 8:30pm, the agency issued a tweet calling off the emergency ‘thanks to conservation of Californians!’ It said no power outages were ordered by operators of the grid.

Pacific Gas & Electric, the state´s largest utility, warned customers that it might cut power starting Tuesday because of expected high winds and heat that could create even greater fire danger. Some of the state´s largest and deadliest fires in recent years have been sparked by downed power lines and other utility equipment.

In Southern California, crews scrambled to douse several fires that popped up, including one that closed mountain roads in Angeles National Forest.

The largest was a blaze in the foothills of Yucaipa east of Los Angeles that prompted evacuation orders for eastern portions of the city of 54,000 along with several mountain communities. Cal Fire said the fire scorched at least 4.7 square miles of brush and trees.

‘By our calculations, over 99 percent of California’s population is under an Excessive Heat Warning or Heat Advisory today,’ the weather service in Sacramento tweeted Sunday afternoon 

Firefighters keep an eye on the Creek Fire along state Highway 168, late on Sunday, September 6

Cal Fire firefighters protect a structure near Montiel Truck Trail during the Valley Fire, in San Diego County on Sunday

Plumes of smoke rise into the sky as a wildfire burns on the hills near Shaver Lake. Fires in the Sierra National Forest have prompted evacuation orders as authorities urged people seeking relief from the Labor Day weekend heat wave to stay away from the popular lake

The wind whips embers from a tree burned by a wildfire Yucaipa. Three fast-spreading California wildfires sent people fleeing Saturday, with one trapping campers at a reservoir in the Sierra National Forest, as a brutal heat wave pushed temperatures into triple digits in many parts of state

In eastern San Diego County, the Valley Fire broke out Saturday afternoon, and fire officials warned the blaze was burning at a ‘dangerous rate of speed.’

By Sunday morning it had destroyed at least 10 structures after burning 6.25 square and prompted evacuations near the remote community of Alpine in the Cleveland National Forest.

At least two of the lost structures were homes, ABC10 News in San Diego reported.

Cal Fire said 14,800 firefighters were continuing to battle 23 major fires in the state as of Monday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a statewide emergency because of the widespread fires and extreme weather conditions. He has also secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the state’s emergency response.

Additionally, Newsom issued an emergency proclamation for the counties of Fresno, Madera and Mariposa, which are fighting the Creek Fire; for San Bernardino County, which is battling the El Dorado Fire; and for San Diego County because of the Valley Fire.

Newsom also urged state residents to keep their thermostats at 78 degrees or higher, to use appliances sparingly and to keep lights switched off whenever possible.

‘Power outages were avoided … due in large part to individual conservation efforts,’ Newsom said. ‘Even more conservation efforts are needed.’

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