Transcript for More than 200 rescued from California wildfire
Good evening and it's great to be back with all of you at home after this labor day and we do have several major developments as we come on the air. There is news on the hunt for a vaccine and what could be a significant setback what we've learned so far. But we're going to begin tonight with that scene unfolding right now. The daring rescues under way at this hour. The wildfires now in nine states. In California tonight, 25 major fires right now. The creek fire alone near Fresno trapping hundreds of campers and hikers. National Guard helicopters rescuing 160 people alone today. Tonight, though, many still trapped. A wife waiting for her husband and sons to be rescued. It is a dangerous operation under way in high winds and near zero size vblt. The eldorado fire threatening homes, forcing evacuations there. The valley fire near San Diego spreading quickly, as well. Fire seen on both sides of the road. And in Washington state tonight, hurricane-force winds fueling the flames there. Destroying most of the town of maldon. We have it all covered for you tonight, including the winds expected to pick up significantly as we head into the night. ABC's Matt Gutman leading us off. Reporter: Tonight, the massive creek fire exploding through central California. A massive rescue effort underway. But more than a dozen people still trapped by flames galloping down hillsides. Lisa Ebright desperately waiting for her husband and two sons. So I'm just anxious for them to come home and for me to see them step off. Then I can breathe. Reporter: National Guard and Navy choppers scooping up more than 160 people from that inferno today. Families now making emotional reunions. You guys smell like smoke so bad! It was such an anxious wait, not knowing what was going to happen and when they were going to be here. It's juster is real having them here in the flesh. Reporter: These rescue missions executed in high winds and near zero visibility. It's extremely dangerous for the military crews carrying out those dramatic operations. In all, they've pulled more than 200 from the fires over the weekend in chinook and black hawk helicopters. The smoke's been so thick that the pilots don't have a visual of the terrain to land safely or to identify the locations where the evacuees are. Reporter: This single fire now consuming over 143,000 acres. Destroying homes, forcing thousands to evacuate. We're in uncharted territory with the amount of evacuations and with the speed of the fire. Reporter: More than two dozen major fires are burning through the state. Nearly 14,000 firefighters battling impossible conditions. California passing the grim milestone of 2 million acres burned -- a record. The Dolan fire in Monterey county nearly doubling in size overnight. Moving so quickly, 15 firefighters were forced to deploy fire shelters. These are only used when their lives are in immediate danger. Tonight, at least two taken to the hospital, one of them in critical condition. And it's not just California. Fires now burning in nine western states. This fire in Oregon easily visible from 30,000 feet. And in Washington state, hurricane-force wind gusts helped fuel the destruction there. People with only minutes to evacuate the town of Malden, south of Spokane. It was surreal. It was like, you can't believe how fast. I can't -- I still can't fathom how quick -- how quickly it traveled. Reporter: Cars destroyed, homes burned to the foundation. The area tonight a wasteland. David, we came up here so you can hear this. What sounds like a waterfall is actually wind howling through the trees here. It's going to act like nigh have glycerin tonight, turbo charging all the fires that exist in the valley below. We spoke to a battalion chief here, the fear is it's going to push those fires into the San Gabriel valley where tens of thousands of people live. We could see a lot of evacuations tonight. David? Yeah, that sound certainly makes the point, Matt, thank As I mentioned at the top tonight, the winds are expected to be a real problem once again as we head into this evening. So, let's get right to chief meteorologist ginger zee, on the ground in California for us and ginger, what are you expecting in the hours ahead? Reporter: David, I've got another sound over me, one of more than a dozen helicopters in just the last hour hitting the hot spots here in the eldorado fire, trying to get them out, because they're about to meet up with mother nature's kerosene, the Santa Ana winds. You see that arid high pressure system settling in over the great basin. It sends those offshore winds and that makes for gusts 40 to even 55 miles per hour. When you take those through a mountain pass, you take a little smoldering ember and you make it a giant wall of flames. And that's what we're concerned with tonight. We also are concerned with the red flag warnings that go from Arizona to Washington state. Air quality alerts are up everywhere, because even if you aren't right on top of the fire, you can't breathe. You can't see. The smoke and visibility impacting everyone here along the west coast. Thinking about the millions in the west tonight. Ginger, thank you. And of course, the other
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