Wildfires Sweep Through California and Oregon
Firefighters battling wildfires throughout the US West that have torched hundreds of homes hoped for some help from the weather Saturday even as new fires swept Southern California.
A fire on the California-Oregon border that destroyed 40 buildings and claimed at least one life since Thursday remained virtually out of control, but a National Weather Service (NWS) warning of extreme fire danger from heat and winds expired Friday.
Farther south, a new wind-driven fire Friday night burned at least 20 homes and threatened hundreds more in the hills above Goleta in Santa Barbara County, authorities said.
Evacuations were ordered as the fire edged into residential areas, and by late Friday night, it was about a mile from the downtown area, county fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.
Authorities said the blaze started with a house fire and gusty winds reportedly were pushing the flames.
The area is North of where the Thomas Fire raged last December. That blaze destroyed more than 1,000 buildings in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
East of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest, authorities ordered the evacuation of the community of Forest Falls, which has about 700 homes, as a quick-moving wildfire swelled to 1,000 acres, about 1.5 sqm.
In San Diego County, several fires erupted including one that burned at least 5 homes and perhaps many more in Alpine, in foothills not far from San Diego. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the county.
The fire was only 5% contained Friday night, but crews had virtually stopped its growth and were focusing on knocking down hotpots that continue to threatened houses and mobile homes, state fire officials said.
Another fire on the Camp Pendleton Marine base prompted the evacuation of 750 homes.
The new blazes came as Southern California saw many areas top 100 degrees Friday and more than a dozen areas got record-breaking temperatures for the day. The weather service forecast called for continued hot weather for much of the area Saturday.
In the north, the fire in Siskyou County on the Oregon border had virtually emptied the tiny communities of Hilt and Hornbrook. Fire officials called for immediate evacuation of some Oregon areas near the community of Colestin.
“We know we’ve lost homes and lots of structures, including livestock and horses as well,” said Ray Haupt, chairman of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors.
The body of a resident was found Friday morning in the charred ruins of a Hornbrook home, but authorities were struggling to identify the body.
Elsewhere in California, a massive blaze northwest of Sacramento that began on 30 June destroyed 10 homes and other buildings but was 42% contained, officials said.
California is 1 of several Western states where recent wildfires have destroyed homes and forced thousands of people to evacuate