August 14th 2012-
The fire raging near Cle Elum is one of several devastating Western states this week.
Colorado paid the price earlier this summer. Now, new wildfires are burning through sagebrush, grass and beetle-killed lodgepole pines in California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington and Idaho.
In all, 62 fires, including 16 new large fires, were burning as of Tuesday, the U.S. Forest Service reported. They have destroyed dozens of homes and are threatening many more.
Washington’s Taylor Bridge Fire began as a brush fire Monday afternoon. By midnight it had swallowed up 16,000 acres, and by Tuesday, 16,500 acres, or 41 square miles, were burning.
Authorities have already evacuated between 400 and 450 people near the Taylor Bridge Fire, said Rex Reed, the incident commander. He was not aware of any injuries.
“The fire behavior I would classify as extreme,” Reed said. “Extreme fire conditions. We expect a very busy day. Very rapid rates of spread. There are multiple heads on this fire.”
He said authorities were working to activate National Guard troops to assist in the operation in Kittitas County, where a state of emergency has been declared.
In Idaho, a blaze has killed a 20-year-old firefighter. Two other firefighters have been injured in Oregon and California.
Anne Veseth died Sunday while fighting the Steep Canyon Fire near Orofino, said Phil Sammon of the Forest Service. He said the death was accidental but could not confirm how it happened. –CNN
Videos: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4
Two fires in Lake County have combined to burn 7,000 acres and are now at 30 percent containment.
Evacuation orders have been lifted for the Spring Valley area of Clearlake Oaks. Residents were allowed to return home as of 8 p.m. Monday. Two buildings have been destroyed and one damaged. There are 480 homes that are threatened and 358 firefighters are battling the flames. The flames, however, continue to spread. The good news is that the fire has been heading east — away from life and property, triple digit temperatures aren’t helping matters as firefighters tried to gain the upper hand. Last night, fire crews were counting on cooler temperatures overnight to calm things down.
“We are making good progress overnight because that is when the humidity is the high and the fire intensity is slowing down and it is a matter of holding on to what we have during the afternoon. We are still expecting high temperatures, low humidity and winds in the afternoon which is making everything a real challenge,” said CAL FIRE Capt. Tom Knecht.
CAL FIRE says there’s still a lot of work to do, especially east near the Walker Ridge area where the most active flames are.
The American Red Cross is accepting donations to help people affected by the fires in Lake County. Visit http://www.redcross.org , call 1-800-RED-CROSS, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or mail donations to American Red Cross, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties, 5297 Aero Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
August 15th 2012 Update:
Residents in sparsely populated parts of Riverside and San Diego counties were told to evacuate their homes Tuesday as several wildfires burned in Southern California’s desert heat.
State fire officials say a 4½-square-mile blaze in foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County is 15 percent contained Wednesday. It’s threatening 47 homes near the community of Aguanga east of Temecula. The fire burned four structures.
Two residents were burned, one seriously.
In northeastern San Diego County, a series of lightning fires is 15 percent contained after burning more than 14½ square miles of wilderness. More than 1,400 firefighters and numerous aircraft are on the scene. At one point, the fires came dangerously close to rural ranch houses. ABC7News