Wildfires in western US balloon in size between hot and windy conditions

Wildfires in California and Montana spread in size overnight amid warm and windy conditions and on Saturday encroaching neighborhoods for evacuation orders for more than 100 homes, while a fire spread in Idaho.

n California’s Klamath National Forest, the fast-growing McKinney fire, which began Friday, scorched 62 square miles (160 sq km) of just over one square mile (1 sq km) as of Saturday in a largely rural area Went. According to fire officials, the area near the Oregon state line.

The fire burned down at least a dozen homes and wildlife was seen fleeing the area to escape the flames.

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A fire truck drives along California Highway 96 as the McKinney Fire burns in Klamath National Forest (Noah Berger/AP)

Klamath National Forest spokeswoman Caroline Quintanilla said: “It continues to increase with erratic winds and thunderstorms in the area and we are in triple-digit temperatures.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the fire intensified. The proclamation allows her more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and access federal aid.

It also allows for “firefighting resources from other states to assist California employees in fighting the fire,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Meanwhile, in Montana, the Elmo fire nearly tripled in size to more than 11 square miles (about 28 sq km) within a few miles of downtown Elmo.

About 200 miles (320 km) to the south, residents of Idaho remained under evacuation orders as moose fires in the Salmon-Challis National Forest destroyed more than 67.5 square miles (174.8 sq km) of wood near the town of Salmon. burnt the land. It was contained 17%.

US Forest Service regional spokesman Tom Stokesberry said a significant build-up of vegetation was fueling the McKinney fire.

“It’s a very dangerous fire – the geography there is steep and rough, and this particular area hasn’t burned in a while,” he said.

A small fire was also burning outside Cead town, he said.

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McKinney flames consume trees in the Klamath National Forest (Noah Berger/AP) along California Highway 96.

He said resources are being brought in from across California to help fight the area’s fires, with lightning predicted in the next few days.

McKinney’s explosive escalation forced workers to shift from trying to control the perimeter of the fire to trying to protect homes and critical infrastructure such as water tanks and power lines, and into evacuations in Siskiyou, California’s northernmost county. helped.

Deputy and law enforcement officers were knocking on doors in the county seat of Yereka and the city of Fort Jones to urge residents to get out and get their animals safely onto trailers. Automatic calls were also being sent to land phone lines as there were areas where there was no mobile phone service.

More than 100 homes were ordered to be evacuated and officials were warning people to be on high alert. Part of Highway 96 was closed due to smoke from the fire.

The Pacific Coast Trail Association urged hikers to head to the nearest town, while the US Forest Service closed a 110-mile (177 km) section of the trail from Etna Summit to Mount Ashland Campground in southern Oregon.

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A horse grazes the burning McKinney fire in Klamath National Forest, California (Noah Berger/AP)

Oregon State Representative Dacia Graber, a firefighter, was camping with her husband, who is also in the fire service near the California state line, when gale-force winds woke them up after midnight.

The sky was glistening with electric shocks in the clouds while ash was blowing over them, though they were in Oregon, about 10 miles (16 km) away. Ms Graber said the intense heat from the fire had sent a massive pyrocumulonimbus cloud, which can produce its own weather system, including winds and thunder.

“These were some of the worst winds I’ve ever been in and we’re used to big fires,” she said. “I thought it would rip the tent over the roof of our truck. We got out of there.”

On their way out, they came across pedestrians on the Pacific Coast Trail, running to safety.

“The terrifying part for us was the wind velocity,” she said. “It went from a fairly cold, humid night to hot, dry hurricane-force winds. Usually this happens with fires during the day but not at night. I hope it’s dead for everyone, but It looks like it’s about to get worse.”

In western Montana, the wind-driven Elmo fire forced the evacuation of homes and livestock as it moved across grass and wood, according to The National Interagency Fire Center, based in Idaho. The agency estimates that it will take about a month to bring the fire under control.

According to the Montana Department of Transportation, the thick smoke caused a section of Highway 28 between Hot Springs and Elmo to be closed.

Personnel from several different agencies were fighting the fire on Saturday, including the Confederate Salish and Kootnai Tribes fire divisions. Six helicopters were making drops on the fire with the help of 22 engines on the ground.

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Scorched vehicles and homes along Oaks Mobile Home Park in Klamath River Community (Noah Berger/AP)

In Idaho, more than 930 wildland firefighters and support workers were battling moose fires Saturday and protecting homes, energy infrastructure and the Highway 93 corridor, a major north-south route.

A red flag warning indicated the weather could worsen, with forecasts of a “dry thunderstorm” with no lightning, wind and rain.

Firefighters and helicopters battle flames in Maui near Pia Bay on Saturday evening in Hawaii.

The Maui County Emergency Management Agency said roads were closed and advised residents and commuters to avoid the area. It is not clear how many acres have been burnt. The red flag warning is in effect on Sunday.

Meanwhile, crews made significant progress in battling another major fire in California that forced the evacuation of thousands of people near Yosemite National Park earlier this month. According to the Cal Fire Incident Update, 52% of the oak fires were contained as of Saturday.

As fires raged across the West, the US House of Representatives on Friday approved sweeping legislation aimed at helping communities in the region cope with increasingly severe wildfires and droughts – fueled by climate change – that will help homes recover. Billions of dollars have been lost and businesses in recent years.

The legislative measure, approved by federal politicians, combines 49 separate bills and will increase firefighter pay and benefits, promote resilience and mitigation projects for communities affected by climate change, protect watersheds, and for wildfire victims. Will make it easier to get federal aid.

The bill will now go to the Senate, where California Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein has sponsored a similar measure.