Video shows a man surrounded by a raging wildfire in California’s Sierra National Forest — one of 207 people trapped there before helicopters carried them to safety overnight into Sunday.
The footage shows RVs and other vehicles burning as the camera pans to what looks like a post-apocalyptic landscape, with flames ripping through densely wooded hills just beyond a popular camping area near the Mammoth Pool Reservoir.
“Just wanted to show you, if we make it out of this.. We are completely trapped. There’s fire on all sides, all around us. All the roads are burnt,” says the man filming, identified as Jeremy Remington by a local reporter who shared the video on Twitter.
The California Office of Emergency Services said Black Hawk and Chinook choppers were used in the rescues that began late Saturday and ended on Sunday morning.
At least 20 people were taken to area hospitals, including two who were severely injured. Two campers chose to stay behind, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said.
A photo from the the California National Guard showed some 20 people crouched in an aircraft, clutching their belongings. In another image taken from the cockpit, trees around the helicopter were being consumed by flames.
Among those rescued was Ashley Wagner, along with two relatives and a friend, who had been trapped in Logan’s Meadow behind Wagner’s Store, a 63-year-old business run by her aunt that was destroyed.
“My family’s history just went up in flames,” Wagner told ABC30 in Fresno.
Other people made the terrifying trip to safety on their own, including one woman who recorded herself and her pals driving down a mountain road with flames on both sides.
“A backpacking trip cut short by unforeseen thunder, ash rain, and having to drive through literal fire to evacuate #SierraNationalForest in time,” @julipdoe tweeted. “Grateful to the SNF ranger who led us down…”
Named the Creek Fire, the inferno sparked Friday and, by Saturday afternoon, had exploded in size, jumping the San Joaquin River and cutting off the only road into the Mammoth Pool Campground, said national forest spokesman Dan Tune.
It grew seven-fold in just a couple hours on Saturday afternoon, aided by bone-dry conditions and intensely hot weather.
“Once the fire gets going, it creates its own weather, adding wind to increase the spread,” Tune said.
The blaze had charred more than 71 square miles, as temperatures in the area topped 100 degrees. It was just 5 percent contained by Sunday morning.
With Post wires