Southwest Wildfires Raging in Record High Temperatures
Update: Wildfire warnings were posted across parts of 3 Western US states Sunday as a heat wave baked the region in record, triple-digit temperatures, stoking flames in California from the coastal foothills outside Santa Barbara to desert brush near the Mexican border.
For an area stretching from Southern California to Southern Nevada and into Arizona, the National Weather service has put out “Red Flag Warnings,” indicating conditions that could lead to dangerous fires.
A wildfire fed by dried fuel and high winds spread in Southern California Saturday, forcing hundreds of people to leave their homes as the blaze formed destructive columns of flames known as fire tornadoes.
The Sherpa Fire in Santa Barbara County, about 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles, burned through about 7,811 acres by Saturday evening, officials said.
Firefighters estimated the wildfires were 45% contained after early evening “Sundowner winds” that can whip through the area’s coastal canyons did not happen overnight Friday.
More than 1,200 firefighters have been dispatched to battle the flames, fueled by dry chaparral and grass in coastal canyons about 20 miles northwest of the coastal City of Santa Barbara.
“Now is the time to gather your family members, pets and important documents in case you need to leave quickly,” the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office warned people living in areas threatened by the fire.
The wildfire broke out Wednesday and has been expanding since then, forcing mandatory evacuations in some areas and putting others under evacuation warnings.
The fire is just 1 of a series of blazes in western and southwestern states brought about by high temperatures and a prolonged dry spell. One of the largest has been southeast of Albuquerque, NM, that has destroyed about 25 homes and forced evacuations.
More than 700 personnel were fighting the so-called Dog Head Fire that has burned through about 17,615 acres of timber and logging zones in 4 days. Firefighters said it was 9% contained as Saturday evening. Governor Susana Martinez this week declared a state of emergency to free up resources to fight the blaze.
The outlook for an area from Southern California to Southern Nevada and into Arizona is one of “Red Flag Warnings,” indicating conditions that could lead to dangerous wildfires according to the National Weather Service.
It has also issued a heat advisory for large parts of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.
Forecasters said record-breaking heat would persist through Tuesday, especially in the Desert Southwest, where temperatures could reach as high as 120F.
“These extreme temperatures can be life-threatening,” the National Weather Service said.
Remember, when traveling in Fire Danger zones, take extreme care lives and property depend on it.
Have a terrific week.