Western wildfires: Blazes burn in 4 states amid hot weather

Trees are covered in smoke as a fire continues to burn Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Angelus Oaks, Calif. Firefighters working amid sweltering conditions in steep terrain were aided by a fleet of water-dropping aircraft in attacking flames in the mountainous wilderness about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. (Micah Escamilla/The Sun via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Trees are covered in smoke as a fire continues to burn Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Angelus Oaks, Calif. Firefighters working amid sweltering conditions in steep terrain were aided by a fleet of water-dropping aircraft in attacking flames in the mountainous wilderness about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. (Micah Escamilla/The Sun via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Wildfires are tearing through some parched and drought-stricken areas of the Western states. They include a massive blaze in a remote area and some smaller but dangerous wildfires. Here’s a look at the latest hotspots and what crews are doing to control them.

___

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Air tankers and helicopters were helping hundreds of firefighters battle a wildfire south of Lake Tahoe that has burned nearly 15 square miles of timber and grass. No structures have been damaged but the California mountain town of Markleeville remained on standby for possible evacuations.

About 500 personnel were expected to be on the fire lines about 20 miles west of the Nevada border by Tuesday.

The fire was sparked by lightning Friday and it was about 10 percent contained Monday night after forcing the evacuation of some campgrounds.

Five homes and 15 historic cabins had been threatened over the weekend, but no structures were damaged and no one was injured.

And Highways 89 and 4 in the Monitor Pass area remained closed.

___

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Cooler weather helped crews make progress against a huge forest fire in a remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains. The fire about 90 miles east of Los Angeles was 24 percent contained and holding steady at about 27 square miles as firefighters attacked the flames with a fleet of water-dropping aircraft.

About 500 buildings, including old cabins, had been threatened, but none was lost. The flames forced several hundred people to leave camps and vacation homes in the mountains.

Another blaze near Santa Margarita in Central California burned two homes, four mobile homes and two recreational vehicles that were used as people’s homes. The fire had burned less than 3 square miles along with 10 other buildings, seven vehicles, a boat and a trailer. It was 80 percent contained.

___

ALASKA

Fire crews in Alaska were hustling to battle new wildfires that sparked up in the state’s interior just as two large blazes are waning following a break in the state’s high temperatures.

Six structures, which could be anything from a shed to a home, were destroyed in a two-fire complex ignited by lightning about 20 miles southwest of Nenana. A small new fire, also caused by lightning, was burning just outside of the Yukon River village of Nulato.

Many of Alaska’s wildfires are caused by lightning, and this year conditions are extra vulnerable because a lack of snow during the winter in much of the state. Alaska was hit statewide by almost 16,000 lightning strikes on Sunday alone, when 47 new fires broke out, according to fire managers.

The two-fire complex has burned nearly 9 miles by Monday and led to the evacuation of about 20 people. The fire is heading toward the town of Anderson more than 8 miles away, but the Nenana River is between the blaze and the community.

South of those blazes, fire crews on Monday continued mopping up fires that had threatened two communities before cooling temperatures over the weekend provided relief.

As of Monday, Alaska had 441 wildfires, including 186 that remain active over almost 179 square miles. Altogether, fires this year have covered 358 square miles.

___

OREGON

Crews worked to contain a wildfire burning south of the Succor Creek State Natural Area in Eastern Oregon.

The Bureau of Land Management said Monday the 175-acre blaze was spotted the night before by an aircraft returning from a wildfire in Idaho.

The cause of the wildfire has not been determined and there’s no estimate for when it might be contained.

Elsewhere, crews in southwest Oregon used a controlled burning operation to make progress on the nearly 5,000-acre Buckskin fire that was 30 percent contained Monday.

___

WASHINGTON

Helicopters were brought in to help battle a wildfire in rugged terrain in Olympic National Park in northwest Washington state.

The U.S. Forest Service said 18 firefighters and two helicopters performing bucket water drops attempted Monday to slow the progress of the blaze on the north side of the Queets River.

The fire had burned more than 400 acres, but officials said smoke hampered their attempt to get an accurate measurement Monday.

No property or people were threatened because the remote location of the fire, which began over the weekend, authorities said.

blog comments powered by Disqus