Published: July 10,2017
As roughly 40 wildfires burn across the baking landscape of the western U.S. and Canada, fire officials in California are telling residents they need to leave immediately if evacuations are ordered.
The weather is unlikely to make the battle against the blazes any easier, according to weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. Hot and dry conditions will persist through this week in Butte County, California, with temperatures in the low to middle 90s and winds generally 5 to 15 mph. Temperatures may soar to near the century mark by next weekend.
In California, two major wildfires forced nearly 8,000 people out of their homes over the weekend. Fire officials are warning residents in wildfire areas to get out immediately if authorities issue evacuation orders.
Bennet Milloy, spokesman for the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Monday that officials had to send in three engine crews to rescue a person who ignored weekend orders to leave as flames approached mountain homes. Milloy says officials will always try to save human lives, but the effort can sometimes drain resources needed elsewhere. He says three engines can protect up to 20 homes.
The Wall fire has burned nearly 9 square miles (23 square kilometers), injured four firefighters and destroyed at least 17 structures, but that number is expected to rise, fire officials said Monday.
About 4,000 people evacuated and another 7,400 were told to prepare to leave their homes as fire swept through grassy foothills in the Sierra Nevada, about 60 miles north of Sacramento, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The area burning was southeast of Oroville, where spillways in the nation's tallest dam began crumbling from heavy rains this winter and led to temporary evacuation orders for 200,000 residents downstream.
(MORE: California Heat Wave Kills Thousands of Cattle)
Resident Chuck Wilsey learned Monday that his home in the wildfire zone is still standing. He told the Associated Press that he's relieved, but cautious, and is already planning for the next evacuation should it come. He says he's keeping his trailer attached to his truck and telling his daughters to gather prized possessions they couldn't get the first time around.
Others were not as lucky. One home was gone except for its chimney. Another was nearly destroyed, with gnarled appliances and a burned-out car the main remnants.
The fire was 35 percent contained Monday. It was one of 14 wildfires across California that about 5,000 firefighters battled Sunday.
In Southern California, at least 3,500 people evacuated as two fires raged at separate ends of Santa Barbara County. The largest has charred more than 45 square miles (116 square kilometers) of dry brush and is threatening more than 130 rural homes. It's 15 percent contained.
About 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the south, a 17-square-mile (44-square-kilometer) blaze shut down State Route 154 and sent weekend campers scrambling for safety. It's just 5 percent contained.
Amayah Madere told KCBS-TV she was in the pool when a counselor told the children to get out and change in a hurry. She said they waited in a dining hall while firefighters fought the fire and the counselors sprayed down the area with water.
"I prayed that if I didn't die I would go to church, and right when I prayed the firefighters came," Madere said.
Firefighters here may get a little help from the weather, according to Dolce. Somewhat cooler temperatures and increased humidity are expected through the middle of this week thanks to the influence of the Pacific Ocean. Highs in the 80s are likely with winds 5 to 15 mph.
Elsewhere in the WestThe fight against a wildfire that temporarily forced the evacuation of hundreds of people near the resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado, is winding down.
Firefighters had built containment lines around 85 percent of the blaze as of Monday, and residents of nearby homes were no longer on standby to evacuate. Crews and equipment were starting to be sent to other fires burning around the western U.S.
In Arizona, residents who fled the rural community of Dudleyville, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Phoenix, over the weekend because of a wildfire were allowed to return home.
Pinal County authorities say the evacuations were lifted Sunday evening after crews stopped the growth of the fire, which has destroyed three homes.
In New Mexico, firefighters are mopping up a wildfire that sent up a tall plume of smoke from mountains overlooking Albuquerque late last week.
British ColumbiaFirefighters were contending with more than 200 wildfires burning in British Columbia that had destroyed dozens of buildings, including several homes and two airport hangars. The three biggest fires, which have grown in size to range from 9 to 19 square miles (23 to 49 square kilometers), had forced thousands of people to flee.
"We are just, in many ways, at the beginning of the worst part of the fire season and we watch the weather, we watch the wind, and we pray for rain," outgoing Premier Christy Clark told reporters in Kamloops.
Rob Schweizer, manager of the Kamloops Fire Centre, said it had been an unprecedented 24 hours.
"We probably haven't seen this sort of activity that involves so many residences and people in the history of the province of B.C.," he said.
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.