Wildfires in Southern California Raging, 100’s in Danger
A wildfire in Southern California more than 3X’d in size overnight and forced officials to close a major highway, 100’s of homes in danger, another blaze in New Mexico had communities on edge after destroying 24 homes, officials said on Friday.
California’s Sherpa Fire, burning in chapparal and tall grass, was driven by strong winds as it roared down hillsides toward the Pacific Ocean in a wilderness area northwest of the coastal city of Santa Barbara.
It grew from 1,200 acres Thursday night to more than 4,000 acres early Friday, said a spokeswoman for the joint operations center fighting the fire.
Its rapid growth during the night forced officials to close a portion of the 101 Freeway, a major corridor for vacation travelers near California’s coast, though officials said they have since reopened the road.
Officials widened their evacuation orders to move people and horses out of danger. In all, they have placed at least 270 homes and businesses under evacuation orders and cleared out campgrounds and state beaches.
The fire, which broke out Wednesday in the Los Padres National Forest is under investigation, has not caused any injuries yet. Hundreds of firefighters working on the blaze had it about 5% contained.
Friday, in another part of the Southwest, firefighters sought to make headway against a wildfire in central New Mexico that has burned more than 16,000 acres of timber and logging zones, and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate, officials said.
The blaze destroyed 24 single-family homes near the small community of Chilili in Bernalillo County soon after it erupted Wednesday, said a spokesman for the team of 600 firefighters battling the fire.
Thursday, firefighters made a successful stand on State Route 337 to protect Chilili from advancing flames.
Winds were expected to push the blaze to the East and Southeast, away from more heavily populated areas on the northwest flank of the burn area.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has declared a state of emergency and ordered the state’s National Guard to be prepared to assist in battling the blaze. The cause of the New Mexico fire is also under investigation.
Torrance County Sheriff Heath White said Thursday that his office was evacuating about 200 people.
The National Weather Service Friday predicted dry, windy and hot weather for the region through next week, which could lead to more wildfires.
The weather service issued excessive heat warnings for areas in the US Southwest, including California, Nevada and Arizona and New Mexico. Its forecast office in Phoenix predicted temperatures as high as 119F in the coming days, which would exceed record highs.
California wildfires may be the worst of all-time in Y 2016, and 95% of all California wildfires are caused by humans.
Remember, when traveling in the wilderness and fire zones to take extreme care, lives and property depend on it.
Have a terrific weekend.