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#FireTrap,#Disaster : Aerial videos capture terrifying wildfires scorching California by Maria Gallucci

Menacing red-orange flames and towering plumes of smoke smothered parts of California this weekend amid record-breaking heat and bone-dry gusts. Firefighters and scientists filmed the latest rash of Western wildfires from helicopters, drones, and stationary cameras, offering smoldering views. Dozens of structures have been destroyed and thousands of people fled their homes, though no deaths have been reported. 

Videos taken on Saturday evening from the Oroville Dam in Northern California showed the ebb and flow of the Wall Fire in Butte County, which has so far scorched 4,400 acres. About 5,000 firefighters are now battling 14 large wildfires throughout the Golden State. In Southern California, wildfires burned amid record-setting heat. Downtown Los Angeles saw a high of 98 degrees on Saturday, beating out the 131-year record of 95 degrees set in 1886, according to the National Weather Service. 

Here's the lowdown on the Wall fire that blew up on Friday 7 July not far from the Oroville Dam.

Dusk is upon us and the Wall Fire is in another growth phase as seen from the Oroville dam camera

To make matters worse, about 140,000 city residents suffered through the heat wave without air-conditioning late Saturday after an electrical receiving station exploded and caught on fire in the Northridge neighborhood. 

DWP plant #fire in #Northridge. 

The northridge mall has no power. pic.twitter.com/6Bx2JeV06o — 

Logan Byrnes (@LoganByrnes) July 9, 2017 Meanwhile, north of the city in San Luis Obispo County, the Alamo Fire ballooned overnight to encompass more than 24,000 acres, making it the largest fire currently burning in California, fire officials said Sunday. Operations continue on the #alamofire West of Tepesquet Canyon. #fire firefighters #fireseason #santamaria #biennacido #iaff #cpf A post shared by @santabarbaracountyfirefighters on Jul 8, 2017 at 2:17pm PDT #AlamoFire [update] off Hwy 166, near Twitchell Reservoir (San Luis Obispo Co) is now 19,000 acres & 10% contained. https://t.co/3KR0HM0UMK pic.twitter.com/KfA7fP27BU — CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) July 8, 2017 

The nearby Whittier Fire, currently the third-largest wildfire, barreled over more than 5,000 acres and engulfed Los Padres National Forest. Flames and smoke temporarily prevented some 80 people — mostly children — from being evacuated from their campsite on Saturday, authorities said. The blaze "has real potential for growth" because the area hasn't burned in around seven decades, Andrew Madsen, the national forest public affairs officer, told NBC News . Vegetation Fire-#WhittierFire- A US Forest Service firefighter surveys flames as they continue to burn along Highway 154 near Cachuma Lake. pic.twitter.com/BXDbYKcJUt — SBCFireInfo (@EliasonMike) July 9, 2017 Wildfires are scorching California even as the state recovers from five years of severe drought. Record rainfall and snowpack in parts of the state earlier this year delayed the state of the wildfire season in some places. But it also led to explosive growth of vegetation, which could fuel future fires, the Associated Press noted. 

Firefighters battle a wildfire as it threatens to jump a road near Oroville, California, on July 8, 2017.

While blazes are often sparked by careless campers or arsonists, they're also striking more frequently, and burning for longer periods of time, due in part to human-caused climate change. As average temperatures rise, heat waves strike and rainfall disappears, the soil and plants are drying out faster, raising the long-term risk of wildfires, scientists say. 
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