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Oroville Fire Update: Thompson Fire Forces Thousands to Evacuate in Butte County

A state of emergency has been declared in Oroville as the Thompson Fire rages across Butte County, prompting the evacuation of over 28,000 residents and threatening critical infrastructure. The wildfire, which began on Tuesday morning near Cherokee and Thompson Flat Cemetery roads, has rapidly grown to 3,568 acres with zero percent containment as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Thompson Fire has already destroyed at least four structures and threatens 12,000 others, including power and water supply lines to the Oroville area. Cal Fire reported that approximately 1,438 personnel are currently engaged in firefighting efforts, with additional support arriving from surrounding regions, including 18 firefighters from the San Francisco Fire Department. Four firefighters have sustained heat-related injuries, though no civilian casualties have been reported.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has cut power to nearly 4,000 customers to prevent further fire hazards, adding to the difficulties faced by residents in the affected areas. The Butte County Fire Department and Cal Fire have set up multiple evacuation shelters to support displaced residents, while local animal shelters are struggling with capacity as they care for pets and livestock left behind by evacuees.

Residents of Oroville, a community still recovering from past wildfires such as the devastating 2018 Camp Fire, are once again facing the harrowing experience of fleeing their homes. Rachael Thompson, an Oroville resident, described the suffocating smoke and the tension of awaiting evacuation orders. “We’ve been through it so much that it’s just kind of second nature now. We already know what we need to do and to stay vigilant,” she said.

Fire crews are focusing their efforts on creating a perimeter around the fire and protecting key structures, including the Oroville Dam and the Kelly Ridge community. The fire has been particularly challenging to contain due to extreme heat, low humidity, and dense, dry vegetation. Winds have also contributed to the fire’s rapid spread, pushing flames towards heavily populated areas.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in response to the fire, and federal funds have been approved to assist in firefighting efforts. “California is using every available tool to tackle this fire & will continue to support impacted communities,” Newsom stated.

Residents are urged to heed evacuation orders and prepare emergency kits with essential documents and supplies. The Department of Homeland Security recommends that those in wildfire-prone areas create defensible spaces around their homes to reduce the risk of fire spread. Authorities continue to stress the importance of staying informed through local warning systems like Nixle alerts and PG&E notifications.

With temperatures forecasted to reach up to 113 degrees in Oroville by Thursday and remain high throughout the weekend, fire conditions are expected to remain critical. Firefighters are hopeful that the arrival of additional resources and a drop in wind speeds will aid in their efforts to contain the Thompson Fire.

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