Wildfires – California
Thousands of firefighters have been dispatched to battle dozens of wildfires all over the parched West, and one blaze was responsible for shutting down a portion of an interstate Wednesday evening.
I-84 in eastern Oregon was closed at Exit 216 as the Lime Hill fire grew near the town of Huntington, KTVB.com reported. The city also put its residents on notice that evacuations may be necessary, the report added.
The wildfire has burned more than 7,000 acres of land, and the road closure affects a stretch between Ontario and Pendleton, Oregon, according to the Oregonian.
Many other large wildfires are currently burning across the region, and a rundown of several notable infernos can be seen below.
Firefighters are gaining ground in the battle against the largest wildfire currently burning in California, fire officials say. The so-called Rocky fire has reached nearly 70,000 acres and is 30-percent contained.
On Wednesday, the blaze grew more than 2,500 acres. It has burned land in northern California’s Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties.
CalFire reports that 43 residences and 53 outbuildings have been destroyed, but warns those numbers may rise as damage assessment teams are able to access the previously burned areas.
According to CNN, more than 13,000 Californians were told to evacuate as the inferno continued to grow.
Light rain fell over the Lower Lake Wildfire in California Tuesday, but crews weren’t hopeful it would do much to quell the raging fire.
Across the state, an estimated 9,000 firefighters are battling 21 massive fires, several of which were ignited by lightning strikes, raging across Northern California, said Daniel Berlant, state Department of Forestry and Fire protection spokesman. According to CNN, those fires have burned more than 134,000 acres.
The state is in the midst of a historic drought, making conditions more difficult for those fighting from air and on the ground.
“The conditions and fire behavior we’re seeing at 10 in the morning is typically what we’d see in late-afternoon in late-August and September,” state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection division chief Nick Schuler described. “But because of the dry conditions, because of the drought-stricken vegetation accompanied by the steep terrain and winds, we’re seeing activity that’s abnormal for this time of year.”
Officials rescinded mandatory evacuation orders for the town of Roosevelt in southern Washington on Wednesday morning, after a fast-moving wildfire forced residents to flee Tuesday evening, KATU.com reported. A nearly a 65-mile stretch of Highway 14 remained closed Wednesday, however.
NBC News reported about 300 residents were told to leave after the blaze jumped State Route 14 and moved toward the town. Roosevelt is a small town on the Columbia River, sitting on the state line with Oregon.
No injuries have been reported from this fire, and so far, only outbuildings have been burned. NBC News also said a Red Cross evacuation shelter has been opened at a school some 30 miles north of the town.
This season, wildfires have been relentless all over the parched West. In California, fires prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for the entire state and activate the California National Guard to help with disaster recovery.
Engine Capt. David Ruhl, from South Dakota, was killed battling a fast-moving blaze that broke out Thursday in the Modoc National Forest, about 100 miles south of Oregon.
The so-called Frog fire has grown to about 4,700 acres as of Wednesday morning, and it was 50-percent contained.
Cooler and cloudier weather helped firefighters make progress Monday on two wildfires in the foothills of the Cascades of southwestern Oregon. Smoke continued to choke communities to the south in the Rogue Valley.
The Stouts fire was 10-percent contained after burning through nearly 27 square miles of private and federal timber 16 miles east of Canyonville, the Oregon Department of Forestry said. It started nearly a week ago and the cause remains under investigation. No homes have burned, but more than 300 were threatened. Residents have been warned to be ready to evacuate.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reports smoke levels are unhealthy in Medford and Grants Pass, and hazardous in Shady Cove.
Meanwhile, the nearby Cable Crossing fire is 40-percent contained after burning through 1,800 acres of timber and grass 6 miles east of Glide, also in Douglas County. Firefighters have built trail all the way around it. The cause remains under investigation. There are more than 1,100 firefighters assigned to the wildfire, along with three single-engine air tankers and 15 helicopters. The cost to date is $2.5 million.
Bass Lake Blaze
A wildfire that caused the evacuation of 200 homes in the central California community of Cascadel Woods is 70-percent contained.
Authorities say a boy acknowledged starting the fire near Bass Lake by playing with a lighter to burn pine needles. The fire, which has been burning for several days, has grown to nearly 8 square miles.