More than 50,000 people were ordered to evacuate towns near a massive Northern California wildfire on Saturday as a potentially "catastrophic" wind could make the situation worse. The state's largest utility announced a power cut for an estimated 2.35 million people.
Some gusts this weekend might reach 75 mph (120 kph) or higher as part of a "historic" wind event, the National Weather Service warned. A state of emergency has been declared in Los Angeles and Sonoma counties as the ongoing Kincade Fire, which sparked Wednesday night, has already consumed more than 25,000 acres.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said that this would be the biggest evacuation in the county in over 25 years. At a press conference on Saturday, Sheriff Mark Essick said: "This fire is very dangerous."
Pacific Gas & Electric announced that a new wave of blackouts would be implemented in stages through Saturday afternoon and evening. This is likely to affect about 940,000 homes and businesses in 36 counties for 48 hours or longer. The warning was announced as firefighters tried to contain the blaze in Northern and Southern California. More than 1,300 firefighters are tackling the blaze.
"It's going to be an aggressive fire fight," said Edwin Duniga, spokesman for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "All our firefighters have been told to keep an eye out, to be smart out there, be safe. Because terrain like this makes it hard for firefighters, and [makes it] super dangerous as the winds pick up."