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  • Firefighters on the ground and in the air scramble to battle spot fires at the Rocky Fire in Lake County, July 30, 2015.

    Firefighters on the ground and in the air scramble to battle spot fires at the Rocky Fire in Lake County, July 30, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 August 2015

A firefighter has been killed in the blaze, and hundreds displaced as the flames continue to destroy the land parched by a four-year drought.

California declared a state of emergency Friday as wildfires blazed across the parched state, and a firefighter was killed battling the flames, according to officials.

"It looks very apocalyptic," Al Calderone of Winters told NBC Sacramento. "It's scary. It's hard to breathe out here, too."

Firefighter David Ruhl of South Dakota was fighting the “Frog Fire” in Northern California when he was killed, where 18 separate fires across the state have razed houses leaving hundreds homeless, the Forest Service said.

"This loss of life is tragic and heartbreaking,” Forest Supervisor Amanda McAdams said in a statement.

Since Thursday, the fire has almost doubled in size, scorching some 15,000 acres in rural Lake Country. Bill Peck of Quail Canyon was able to get his horses out of harm's way, but he told NBC Bay Area on Thursday morning, "It's unbelievable fire could spread so fast."

The Rocky Fire began Wednesday afternoon around California's coastal range.

Around 1,000 firefighters were deployed to work on the blaze,  backed up by air tankers and helicopters.

Further north, some 1,800 homes were threatened by the blaze, but firefighters contained three quarters of the flames by Friday morning.

California is facing one of the most severe droughts in history, and has imposed water use rules on the state’s huge agricultural sector for the first time in nearly 40 years.

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