Wind and heat are driving wildfires in the West

Fast-moving wildfires fanned by strong, erratic winds and high temperatures are burning in California and Arizona. Here’s a look at fires across the West:



A wildfire charged through inaccessible terrain and climbed up a steep canyon near Sacramento, forcing the evacuation of at least 400 homes.

The fire that started Tuesday has grown to nearly 1.5 square miles, threatening more than 2,400 homes, businesses and other structures, a spokesman for the state’s forestry agency said Wednesday.

The Red Cross set up an evacuation center in Auburn, about 30 miles northeast of Sacramento. The fire is about 12 percent contained.

“We are starting to see the fire activity pick up,” said Daniel Berlant of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “We’re continuing to hit it with a lot of aircraft.”

A problem has been hobby drones, which compete with firefighting aircraft for air space. He said firefighting aircraft were delayed about 30 minutes Wednesday and 30 minutes Tuesday, waiting for hobby drones to clear out.



A massive blaze that killed two people and destroyed more than 250 buildings in rural mountain communities was more than halfway contained Wednesday.

Rain helped reduce it to creeping and smoldering. The wildfire spanning 73 square miles near Lake Isabella in the southern Sierra Nevada was more than was expected to be fully surrounded by midnight.

In mountains 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles, crews were finishing fire lines at two adjacent blazes that scorched about 8½ square miles above thousands of foothill homes.

An emergency response team has been ordered to determine the extent of the threat to people and property from potential erosion, water runoff and debris flows in the aftermath of the fires.

A similar assessment is planned west of Santa Barbara, where a wildfire charred more than 11 square miles of coastal slopes above U.S. 101.



Firefighters were mopping up Wednesday after a blaze in central Arizona came close to homes, forcing evacuations and the intermittent closure of a major interstate.

Crews hit the fire hard from the ground and with water-dropping helicopters and air tankers to keep the flames contained on the east side of Interstate 17, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Dolores Garcia said.

Strong winds were a challenge as the blaze shifted directions.

It’s considered halfway contained. The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office lifted evacuation orders near the Cordes Lakes area overnight, and most of the interstate was open.

In eastern Arizona, some members of a hotshot crew from the Navajo Nation were forced to deploy their fire shelters Tuesday while battling a blaze south of Pinetop. Six of the 20 members deployed the shelters. They were treated for smoke inhalation but were otherwise uninjured.

Fire shelters are lightweight, aluminum-and-silica covers that are intended as a firefighter’s last resort. Authorities are still investigating what led to their use but said the hotshot crew was in an area where the fire wasn’t yet controlled.

In the Tonto National Forest, officials are monitoring a few small lightning-sparked fires. Crews also made progress on several blazes caused by lightning this week in the Coronado National Forest.



Ravalli County authorities warned some residents to prepare for possible evacuations ahead of a wildfire burning in the Bitterroot National Forest.

More than 110 firefighters were pulled off the line Tuesday afternoon as strong wind and high temperatures caused the fire to double in size to a square mile. The wind grounded at least one helicopter.

The sheriff’s office said there is a high probability of evacuating the largely rural area near Lake Como.

comments powered by Disqus