Wednesday, June 28, 2017

West On Fire: More Than 20 Wildfires Blazing

Pam Wright
Published: June 28,2017

The western wildfire season is in full swing with more than 20 fires blazing in Utah, Arizona and California.
The largest, the so-called Brian Head fire in southern Utah, has destroyed 13 homes, damaged two and forced more than 1,500 people to evacuate, Inciweb reports. The fire has burned more than 84 square miles and remains 10 percent contained.
The fire is the largest burning in the U.S. and authorities say the costs are estimated at $11 million and expect it to grow to $20 million, which would make it the most expensive fire in the state.
(MORE: Scope of Extreme Heat Wave Captured by NASA Maps)
On Tuesday, Utah state Rep. Mike Noel, a Republican, said federal mismanagement and "tree-hugger" environmentalists are responsible for the massive fire near the ski town of Brian Head and a popular fishing lake.
Noel alleges that logging could have cleaned up dead, bug-infested trees that have fueled the so-called Brian Head fire; a conservation group said his accusations are "shameful" and misleading and don't take into account climate change and drought.
More than 1,600 firefighters are battling the blaze, which is spreading in two directions, Inciweb reports.
Authorities say the fire was started on June 17 by someone using a torch tool to burn weeds on private land.

Goodwin Fire Prompts Arizona Governor to Declare State of Emergency

Wednesday Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency in Yavapai County in response to the so-called Goodwin fire. The declaration makes $200,000 in emergency funds available for fire suppression efforts and eligible reimbursements for emergency response and recovery costs.
The fire has burned nearly 32 square miles of land in Prescott National Forest, according to KPNX. Officials ordered the evacuation of 1,400 residents in the central Arizona town of Mayer Tuesday afternoon as the blaze continued to advance on the area.
Winds made conditions more dangerous for some 500 firefighters assigned to the inferno, and the blaze was just 1 percent contained on Tuesday night.
As a result, authorities requested a full evacuation of Mayer in addition to a few other areas nearby and closed Highway 69 in the vicinity, KPNX-TV reported. So far, no structures have been burned.
The evacuation orders were extended Wednesday to include the west side of Highway 69 in Dewey. Pre-evacuations were also announced for Orme School, Dewey-Humboldt, Blue Hills and Mt. Union.
"We do know there has been some structures lost. The count on that is unknown, undetermined at this time." Incident Commander John Pierson said Wednesday. "We still are actively engaged in fighting fire in some areas it's not safe for us to get that accurate assessment."
The cause of the fire, which is one of 10 large fires burning in the state, remains under investigation, according to the Associated Press. Mayer is located about 70 miles north of Phoenix.
A large fire that began with a lightning strike on June 7 has burned more nearly 60 square miles. Known as the Frye fire, the blaze burning on Mt. Graham in southeastern Arizona is 43 percent contained.

Crews Battle Blazes in Southern California

A fire that broke out in Burbank Wednesday forced dozens from their homes. Officials said 60 to 70 homes were placed under mandatory evacuation due to the fast-moving blaze.
More than 100 residents were forced to evacuate their Santa Clarita homes Tuesday when a blaze threatened 80 homes in the Southern California town.
According to CBS Los Angeles, all residents were allowed to return home and 14 Freeway, which was closed by the fire, was reopened.
The fire, which was sparked by a truck following a wreck, consumed at least 870 acres.
Near San Luis Obispo, the so-called Hill Fire destroyed the home of Big Bang Theory actor Johnny Galecki. The fire burned about 1,600 acres.

Interstate Shut Down by Wildfire in Idaho 

A 6-square-mile wildfire temporarily shut down Interstate 84 in Idaho Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.
Officials have stopped the blaze from advancing and are working to extinguish hot spots within its perimeter.
On Wednesday, roughly 10 fires continued to burn in grass and brush in the southeastern part of the state, north of the Utah border.
MORE: Utah's Brian Head Fire — June 2017

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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