Flames tear through homes in a California neighborhood in a shocking video released by firefighters from one of the largest wildfires currently scorching the state as officials announced Wednesday that hundreds of service members are joining the firefight.
At the request of the National Interagency Fire Center, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), U.S. Northern Command’s Joint Force Land Component Command, will oversee the military support effort, the second undertaken in California this month.
“Given the unprecedented fire season and the magnitude of the loss the people of California are experiencing, we stand ready to support the National Interagency Fire Center in their effort to help protect people, property and land in California,” ARNORTH and JFLCC commander Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson said in a statement. “Just like the soldiers supporting fire suppression efforts in Northern California, the Marines and sailors who will assist in this mission in Central California are trained and equipped with all of the necessary gear to keep them safe, to include in a COVID-19 environment.”
According to Cal Fire, the Creek Fire has reached 228,025 acres and is only 18% contained as of Wednesday night.
“Dozers and crews will work to strengthen fireline on the east side of the fire, attempting to hold the perimeter in its current position,” the agency noted in its evening report.
The additional fire crews come as the City of Merced Fire Department shared dramatic footage of the department battling the first 12 hours of the Creek Fire, with helmet cameras showing views of the fire’s destruction.
The montage released on Tuesday shows firefighters dangerously close to the fire with structures and trees ablaze.
“It is hard for our firefighters to put to words what their feelings are sometimes,” the fire department wrote on Facebook. “They work hard and right to the edge of danger, at times they are able save homes and other times they are overran. It breaks their hearts when the fire wins.”
The department said the firefighters fought as long as they could, then “drove through a wall of flames” to get out.
“We share these images so communities can see what our firefighters and many other firefighters across the nation are doing to save the homes of those they don’t know,” the department said. “Please be safe out there and evacuate when told to do so.”
While officials noted conditions have improved in recent days, change may be on the way for this upcoming weekend.
The West is still up in flames with over 80 large wildfires burning across the region.
Critical fire conditions also continue for parts of Oregon, Northern California and the Great Basin.
Poor air quality and smoke are still widespread across the region stretching into the Central U.S. and even into the Northeast.
There is some moisture moving into the Northwest in the next few days that will bring temperatures down and produce some much-needed rain for the region, however, there could also be a risk for stronger thunderstorms as well as a few tornadoes.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and Janice Dean contributed to this report.