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calfornia fires

looks like i’m gonna be stockin up on hotdogs and masrsh-a-mella’s

LAKE HUGHES - Despite withering summer heat, firefighters aided by helicopters and air tankers slowly gained ground Wednesday against California wildfires that have burned more 18,500 acres of brush and forest and caused hundreds of people to evacuate homes this week.
Changing weather offered some potential for relief as monsoonal flow from the southeast began bringing moisture and thunderstorms to the region, but there was also potential for fire-starting lightning and flash-flooding in old burn areas from last fall’s devastating California wildfires.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized funds for some of the blazes, which were burning in Los Angeles County, to the east in Riverside County, to the south in San Diego County and in Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada.

One of the most difficult fires, 4,700 acres in Pine Canyon west of Lake Hughes in Angeles National Forest on the edge of the Mojave Desert, was 46 percent contained. Voluntary and mandatory evacuations emptied more than 500 homes Tuesday, and an outbuilding and motorhome were destroyed.

“The fire has been unpredictable, but now firefighters are trying to make a stand at Highway 138 just north of the fire to attempt to cut it off there,’’ said Los Angeles County fire inspector John Mancha. More than 1,000 firefighters were on the line.

In Riverside County, a 3,698-acre blaze on the edge of San Bernardino National Forest was 50 percent contained as it burned toward unpopulated terrain. It previously posed a threat to the mountain communities of Idyllwild, Pine Cove and Garner Valley. Nearly 1,200 firefighters worked the blaze. One firefighter suffered a broken leg.

In eastern San Diego County, an 8,500-acre blaze sparked by illegal fireworks was 66 percent contained and was expected to be fully surrounded by nightfall Wednesday. Some 1,300 firefighters battled the flames, which started as two fires Tuesday near Lake Henshaw.

The so-called Mataguay fire prompted evacuation of about 100 rural homes and about 200 youngsters from a Boy Scout camp Tuesday, but structures or communities were no longer threatened, said California Department of Forestry firefighter Tyler Ashton.

“It’s pretty much burning in open vegetation,’’ he said.

In the Sierra, hikers were evacuated and trails were closed in part of Yosemite National Park after a lightning-sparked wildfire grew to 1,300 acres Tuesday. The Meadow fire was one of nine fires burning in the park from lightning strikes two weeks ago, the National Park Service said.

Meanwhile, in Alaska, where wildfires are burning on nearly 2.5 million acres, firefighters were building a firebreak about a quarter mile from the town of Eagle, population 126. If the wildfire gets too close to the line, firefighters will light their torches and burn the land between the firebreak and the wildfire.

Bert Plante of the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center said firefighters in Alaska are encountering extreme fire behavior, including 30-foot trees ablaze with 100-foot flames.

“About the only way you can fight that kind of fire is with more fire,’’ Plante said. “Eagle is ready to do it.’’

The fire is part of the Eagle complex of fires, which has burned about 475,000 acres in northeastern Alaska.

Residents of Eagle and Eagle Village, population 59, both near Alaska’s border with Canada, have been told to prepare for possible evacuation. If that becomes necessary, Plante said, they will be given two hours to gather at a designated safety zone at the local airport. The Red Cross already has set up a shelter in Tok, about 165 miles away

Posted by bbeard on 07/18 at 11:37 AM in West Coast

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