It was a hellish night in the Sierra National Forest over Labor Day Weekend as the Creek Fire grew at a dangerous rate near the Mammoth Pool Reservoir, forcing officials to evacuate 224 campers by helicopter.
Campers at the remote lake just southwest of Yosemite National Park were alerted by a helicopter public address system on Saturday afternoon that the fire had blocked the only road to the camping area. The campers anxiously waited into the evening, sheltering in place in their campsites and awaiting further evacuation discussions.
The campers were stuck in what looked to be an inescapable situation, where officials alerted them to enter the water of the lake if the fire took over their camping area:
Jeremy Remington is one of 207 people that was trapped and rescued from Mammoth Pool. He got to Fresno sometime after midnight.— Dennis Valera (@dennisreports) September 6, 2020
The #CreekFire is 45,500 acres now. Shaver Lake is now under mandatory evacuation. Latest info: https://t.co/iyWXRiAuRq pic.twitter.com/BNFRymH4cp
In the evening, the National Guard was called in to evacuate the trapped campers via helicopter. As of Sunday morning, officials believed everyone in the area had been evacuated, although around 20 people had injuries from broken bones to burns.
Simply extraordinary, lifesaving work by the @CalGuard airlifting more than 200 people to safety overnight from the imminent danger of the #CreekFire The National Guard stands Always Ready, Always There to support our communities and nation in times of need. pic.twitter.com/MybDKESipJ— General Daniel Hokanson (@ChiefNGB) September 6, 2020
For the people who were able to escape the area with their car, they saw the explosive nature of the wildfire in person:
A backpacking trip cut short by unforeseen thunder, ash rain, and having to drive through literal fire to evacuate #SierraNationalForest in time. Grateful to the SNF ranger who led us down… wish we we got her name. #CreekFire @mercnews @sfchronicle @ABC7 @KTVU pic.twitter.com/37Ys7XGJ2a— Jules (@julipdoe) September 6, 2020
Had to cut our Shuteye climbing trip short today due to the Creek Fire. We ended up going the long way around after fire cut off Mammoth Pool road. pic.twitter.com/DbrY7XHe9d— Matt Freels (@mf) September 6, 2020
It was a terrifying night for the people that had to be evacuated and a heroic performance from officials who were able to execute the evacuations. The Creek Fire has burned over 100,000 acres in 24 hours and fire officials are going to be dealing with dangerous winds in the upcoming days.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine