Several western US states are suffering from terrible forest fires.
FRESNO, Calif. – High winds blowing over the west led to fast-growing forest fires and forced mass evacuations on Wednesday as firefighters playfully battled to protect lives, homes and businesses.
Northern and central California were besieged again when Diablo winds ignited the flames of roaring historic fires that burned practically uncontrollably. Fifteen firefighters were injured after setting up shelters when flames from the Dolan Fire destroyed a fire station in Los Padres National Forest on the state’s central coast, the US Forest Service said.
“These firefighters were injured while defending the Dolan Fire Station, including burns and smoke inhalation,” said Incident Commander Rob Allen. Three were flown to a Fresno hospital and Allen said one was seriously injured and another was seriously injured.
The creek fire in the Sierra National Forest has destroyed more than 350 buildings and forced the evacuation of over 30,000 people in Fresno and Madera counties, authorities said. This includes dozens of people evacuated by California National Guard and Navy pilots who made eight trips into the wild, bringing back dozens of people each time. Evacuees also included Fresno County MPs and Fresno County Police officers, said Brandon Purcell, Lt. of Fresno County.
Adverse weather conditions are expected to last through Thursday.
“We understand what you’re going through,” said Incident Commander Marty Adell. “Many of us are from fire-prone areas. We have been in this business for a long time. … We will do everything in our power to get you back to the areas where you call home.”
Fires also burned in Southern California, with the state setting a record 3,600 square miles that year, with several weeks ahead of the main fire season. High winds also drove wildfires in Oregon, Washington, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
California on fire:Eye-catching satellite images show how the fires unfold
In Oregon, a series of fires forced residents to flee from flames, smoke and destruction. In Marion County, a Detroit evacuee wondered what she and her neighbors had left behind when she raced out of the inferno.
“Fire on both sides, wind blows, ash flies. It was like going through hell,” Jody Evans told NewsChannel 21. “Have you lost everything or is the only thing you saved yourself?”
Montana: 28 homes lost in Bridger Foothill’s fire
The Bridger Foothills Fire near Bozeman, Montana is not large compared to some of the flames that explode in the west. But it was expensive. Brian Gootkin, Gallatin County’s sheriff, said 28 apartment buildings and an unknown number of other buildings were damaged or destroyed by a fire covering more than 7,000 acres – about 11 square miles.
“Without our firefighters, there would have been a hell of a lot more (houses burned),” Gootkin told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Rainfall over the fire area helped, but the sheriff’s office warned on their Facebook page that “heavy fuels” inside will stay dry and continue to burn. A warming and drying trend was expected by the end of the week, adding to fire concerns.
Oregon: Power Outages and Evacuations
In Oregon, nearly 100,000 households and businesses were without power on Wednesday. The State Office of Emergency Management said at least 35 fires burned across the state. Governor Kate Brown approved an emergency “conflagration” warrant that freed up government funding for several forest fires that were beyond the capabilities of the local crews. She said initial reports show that some of the flames may have been caused by failed power lines.
“This is an unprecedented and significant fire event for our state and frankly the entire west coast,” said Brown.
In Gates, a hamlet in Marion County of about 500 residents 35 miles east of Salem, incumbent Mayor John McCormick said it was difficult to keep track of which homes were spared the flames and which were destroyed. When he was packing up birth certificates and other essentials prior to his escape, he could “see trees explode. You could hear them popping like fireworks”.
“We were happy and at home and everything was great. Within a few hours everything changed for everyone, “he said.” We weren’t even in the evacuation phase until suddenly the fire broke out. No step 1, 2, 3 and out. It was “Get out!” There was no warning at all. “
Washington: “Unprecedented, heartbreaking event”
Fires continued to roar in parts of Washington state. Hundreds of residents have been ordered to evacuate this week. More than 500 square kilometers were burned on Monday alone, Governor Jay Inslee said. That’s more in a single day than 12 of the last 18 entire Firing Times, he said.
“It’s an unprecedented and heartbreaking event,” said Inslee. “We live in a new world. This is not old Washington.”
Inslee said at least nine major fires burned across the state. He blamed heat, strong winds, low humidity and climate change for the explosive growth of fires.
“A fire that you might have seen that would be okay in time is no longer okay because the conditions are so dry, they’re so hot, they’re so windy,” said Inslee. “The climate has changed.”
On a positive note: Hilary Franz, Washington commissioner for public areas, said there appeared to be no deaths or serious injuries in the state.
California: Rescues, Burned Homes in the North; The south awaits Santa Anas
Helicopters have rescued hundreds of people stranded in the burning Sierra National Forest, where the Creek Fire destroyed 365 buildings, including at least 45 homes, and threatened 5,000 buildings. Flames threatened the Auberry foothill community between Shaver Lake and Fresno.
Isaac Rodriguez of San Diego was among those who were brought to safety. Rodriguez and a group of friends were backpacking Shaver Lake planning on camping. When it got hot, Rodriguez fled to the Vermilion Valley Resort on Lake Edison and waited for help.
“The day we started backpacking, we didn’t know there was a fire,” said Rodriguez. “They looked after us pretty well there. … We knew we couldn’t get out.”
Fires burned in southern California’s Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties, and the forecast was for the infamous Santa Ana to arrive in the area. The hot, dry winds could sometimes reach 80 km / h, forecasters said. Residents of foothills east of Los Angeles were told to remain vigilant because of a fire in the Angeles National Forest.
“The combination of gusty winds, very dry air and dry vegetation creates a critical fire hazard,” warned the National Weather Service.
Bacon reported from Arlington, Virginia. Contributors: Sheyanne N. Romero, Visalia Times-Delta; Bill Poehler and Capi Lynn, Salem Statesman Journal; The Associated Press
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