Winds stoke California’s largest fire as blazes scorch West

Jul 26, 2021, 7:57 AM | Updated: 9:26 pm

A Union Pacific fire train sprays water to keep flames from the Dixie Fire from damaging tracks in Plumas County, Calif., on Sunday, July 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

INDIAN FALLS, Calif. (AP) — Erratic winds and the potential for dry lightning added to the challenges facing firefighters battling California’s largest wildfire, one of numerous blazes burning Monday across the U.S. West.

Over the weekend, the massive Dixie Fire merged with the smaller Fly Fire and tore through the remote Northern California community of Indian Falls. The blaze had already leveled at least 16 houses and other structures, but a new damage estimate wasn’t immediately available because flames were still raging in the mountain area.

“Fire behavior has been so unpredictable, it hasn’t been safe for inspectors to go in to work,” said Mitch Matlow, a fire spokesman. “Until things settle down, we won’t know the extent of what’s burned.”

Flames spread in remote areas with steep terrain crews can’t easily reach, Matlow said. Gusty winds also hindered containment efforts and the problem could get worse with the predicted arrival later Monday of pyrocumulus clouds — literally meaning ” fire clouds ” — which can bring lightning and the risk of new ignitions.

Fire officials said the blaze had charred nearly 309 square miles (800 square kilometers) of timber and brush in Plumas and Butte counties, about two hours northeast of Sacramento. It was 22% contained and more than 10,000 homes were still under threat.

Authorities were hopeful that improving weather will help them continue to make progress against the nation’s largest wildfire, the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon. It was 53% contained after scorching 640 square miles (1,657 square kilometers) of remote land. On Monday, an additional crew of Oregon National Guardsmen were sent to help out the more than 2,200 people battling the blaze.

The lightning-caused fire has burned at least 70 homes, mainly cabins, and some 2,000 residences were under evacuation orders.

In Montana, four firefighters were released from a hospital and a fifth was being treated at a burn center Monday after a wildfire overran them last week, authorities said. The five were building a defensive line at the Devil’s Creek Fire in Garfield County when winds shifted suddenly and blew flames back at them.

The firefighter still being treated — a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee — “is making good progress and is in good spirits,” spokesperson Kari Cobb said.

Crews were trying to keep the 10-square-mile (26-square-kilometer) fire from reaching Fort Peck Reservoir along the Missouri River in central Montana. It’s one of three major fires in the state.

Firefighters have frequently dealt with perilous fire behavior, with flames consuming huge areas of vegetation each day. Such conditions are often from a combination of unusual random, short-term and natural weather patterns heightened by long-term, human-caused climate change. Global warming has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years.

Across the West this summer, firefighters have confronted an unusually large number of unpredictable early season fires, U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said.

He recalled a recent small blaze in the Lava Beds area of California that firefighters thought they had doused, only to have the fire flare up again after it burned through a system of tree roots and travelled beneath a containment line.

“It’s off the charts in terms of how some of these fires are behaving,” Moore said.

Elsewhere in California, the 106-square-mile (275-square-kilometer) Tamarack Fire south of Lake Tahoe continued to burn through timber and chaparral but firefighters made progress, aided by cooler weather. The fire was 54% contained and evacuation orders that affected some 2,000 residents in 15 communities on both sides of the California-Nevada state line had been lifted. The fire, sparked by lightning July 4 in Alpine County, California, has destroyed at least 23 buildings, including more than a dozen in Nevada.

In north-central Washington, firefighters battled two blazes in Okanogan County that threatened hundreds of homes and again caused hazardous air quality conditions over the weekend. And in northern Idaho, east of Spokane, Washington, a small fire near the Silverwood Theme Park prompted evacuations Friday evening at the park and in the surrounding area. The theme park was back open with the fire half contained.

More than 85 large wildfires were burning across the country, most of them in Western states. They had burned over 2,343 square miles (6,068 square kilometers) of land.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - An Amazon Prime logo appears on the side of a delivery van as it departs an Amazon Warehouse...
Associated Press

Amazon to hold holiday shopping event in October

Amazon said Monday that next month it will hold a second Prime Day-like shopping event, making it the latest major retailer to offer holiday deals earlier this year to entice cautious consumers struggling with tighter budgets. During the Oct. 11-12 event, Amazon Prime members will get early access to discounted items. The “Prime Early Access […]
23 hours ago
FILE -Visitors walk across the Yalu River Broken Bridge, right, next to the Friendship Bridge conne...
Associated Press

Seoul says North Korea, China reopen freight train traffic

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea and China resumed freight train service Monday following a five-month hiatus, South Korean officials said, as the North struggles to revive an economy battered by the pandemic, U.N. sanctions and other factors. The reopening came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month made a dubious claim […]
23 hours ago
Victoria Colson, 31, of Tampa loads sandbags into her truck along with other Tampa residents who wa...
Associated Press

Cuba prepares evacuations as strengthening TS Ian nears

HAVANA (AP) — Authorities in Cuba suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and said they will begin evacuations Monday as Tropical Storm Ian was forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before reaching the western part of the island on its way to Florida. A hurricane warning was in effect for Grand Cayman and the […]
23 hours ago
The United Nations Security Council meets on the situation in Ukraine, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022 at ...
Associated Press

Politics impede long-advocated growth of UN Security Council

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Virtually everyone involved agrees: Almost eight decades after it came into existence, the powerful U.N. Security Council needs to expand, to evolve, to include more voices. But as with so many things, the central question — and the biggest disagreement — is exactly how. Five countries that were major powers at […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during...
Associated Press

From Yale to jail: Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes’ path

PHOENIX (AP) — Long before he assembled one of the largest far-right anti-government militia groups in U.S. history, before his Oath Keepers stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Stewart Rhodes was a promising Yale Law School graduate. He secured a clerkship on the Arizona Supreme Court, in part thanks to his unusual life […]
23 hours ago
Amanda Rouser poses for a photo in front of a recruiting desk for new poll workers at Atlanta City ...
Associated Press

False claims, threats fuel poll worker sign-ups for midterms

ATLANTA (AP) — Outraged by false allegations of fraud against a Georgia elections employee in 2020, Amanda Rouser made a vow as she listened to the woman testify before Congress in June about the racist threats and harassment she faced. “I said that day to myself, ‘I’m going to go work in the polls, and […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Winds stoke California’s largest fire as blazes scorch West