California wildfire causes evacuations in Nevada
A California wildfire exploding through dry wood prompted Nevada authorities to evacuate a border community as flames leapt over nearby mountain ridges.
The Beckwourth Complex – a merger of two lightning-triggered fires in northern California – headed towards Saturday, showing no signs of slowing its rush northeast from the Sierra Nevada forest region after having doubled in size a few days earlier.
The blaze is one of many looming homes in the western states expected to experience intense heat throughout the weekend as an area of high pressure blankets the region.
Death Valley National Park in California on Friday recorded a high of 54.4 ° C. If verified, it would be the hottest recorded there since July 1913, when the same desert area of Furnace Creek reached 56.6 ° C, considered the highest temperature reliably measured on Earth.
The mountainous regions of northern California have already seen several large fires that have destroyed more than a dozen homes.
Although there are no confirmed reports of damage to buildings, the fire has triggered evacuation orders or warnings for hundreds of homes and several campgrounds in California as well as the closure of nearly 200 miles squares of the Plumas National Forest.
Winds of up to 20 mph combined with fierce heat on Friday as fire raged through pine, spruce and chaparral. As the northeast flank of the blaze raged near the border, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office asked people to evacuate parts of the rural communities of Ranch Haven and Flanagan Flats, north of Reno .
The rising hot air formed a gigantic cloud of smoke that reached thousands of feet high and created its own lightning bolt, said Lisa Cox, fire intelligence officer.
Localized fires caused by embers leapt up to a mile in front of the northeast flank – too far for firefighters to fight safely, and winds channeled gunfire and canyons filled with dry fuel, where “it can actually pick up speed,” she added.
Nearly 1,000 firefighters have been assisted by planes, but the blaze is expected to continue due to heat and low humidity that has dried out vegetation. The air was so dry that some of the water dropped by the planes evaporated before reaching the ground, Ms Cox said.
The blaze, which is only 11% contained, had officially blackened over more than 38 square miles, but that number is expected to rise dramatically when firefighters can make better observations.
Meanwhile, other fires are burning in Oregon, Arizona and Idaho.
In Oregon, driven by strong winds, a wildfire in Klamath County rose from nearly 26 square miles on Thursday to nearly 61 square miles on Friday in the Fremont-Winema National Forest and on private land. An evacuation order has been issued for people in parts north of Beatty and near Sprague River.
The fire threatens the transmission lines that send electricity to California, which, alongside the expected heat demand, prompted California Governor Gavin Newsom to issue an emergency proclamation on Friday suspending certain rules for allow greater electrical capacity.
The state’s power grid manager also issued a statewide alert calling on consumers to voluntarily save electricity by reducing appliance use and keeping the thermostat higher during evening hours. when solar energy is reduced or is no longer available.
In north-central Arizona, rising humidity slowed a large wildfire that posed a threat to the rural community of Crown King. The 24.5 square mile fire caused by lightning strikes in Yavapai County has been 29 percent contained. Recent rains have enabled five national forests and state land managers to lift public access closures.
In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little on Friday declared a wildfire emergency and mobilized the State National Guard to help fight the fires started after thunderstorms swept through the fire-stricken region. drought.
Fire crews in north-central Idaho faced extreme conditions and gusts as they battled two wildfires covering a combined area of 19.5 square miles. The fires threatened homes and forced evacuations in the small, isolated community of Dixie, about 40 miles southeast of Grangeville.