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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

California workers escalate fire, Washington city evacuated

Klamath River, Calif. ( Associated Press) — California firefighters made gains against the state’s deadliest and biggest wildfire of the year, just as the entire eastern Washington city was being evacuated Thursday after a fire that was burning homes .

At around 1:30 p.m. the Adams County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook that about 10 homes in Lind had burned down.

“At this time all residents of the City of Lind need to be evacuated immediately,” the sheriff’s office said in the post.

Lind is a community of about 500 people about 75 miles (121 km) southwest of Spokane.

The state fire marshal’s office said the fire had burned about 3.1 square miles (8 square kilometers). Homes, infrastructure and crops were at risk. The cause of the fire was being investigated.

Meanwhile, in California, forecasters warned Thursday that rising temperatures and falling moisture levels could trigger further wildfires.

For five days without a stop, the McKinney Fire in Siskiyou County near the Oregon border was engulfed by 10% as of Wednesday evening. Fire officials said bulldozers and crew were working to douse the blaze around the rest of the blaze.

Evacuation orders for sections of Yereka, home to some 7,800 people, in the southeast corner of the fire, were downgraded to warnings, allowing residents to return home, but with caution that the situation remained dangerous.

Officials said at a community meeting on Wednesday evening that orders were in place to evacuate about 1,300 people.

After several days of brief but heavy rain with thunder, providing cloudy, inclement weather, the fire did not progress much in mid-week. But as the clouds clear and the humidity level drops in the coming days, the fire could flare up again, officials warned.

“It’s sleeping right now,” said Darryl Laws, an integrated incident commander on the fire.

Brian Nieuwenhuis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Medford, Oregon, said weekend temperatures could reach triple digits as the area dries up again.

“Heat, dry conditions, coupled with afternoon wind, that sort of thing can keep the fire pretty active,” he said on Thursday.

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The fire, which broke out last Friday, devastated nearly 92 square miles (238 square kilometers) of forest land, which had been dried up by drought. More than 100 homes and other buildings have been burned and four bodies have been found, two of which were in a burnt car in a driveway.

The fire was first caused by strong winds in front of a thunderstorm cell. More storms earlier this week proved to be a mixed blessing. Dennis Burns, a fire behavior analyst, said up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) of rain fell in some eastern parts of the fire on Tuesday, but nothing was found in most of the fire area.

The latest storm also raised concerns about possible river flooding and soil erosion. Creder said a private contractor in a pickup truck who was helping with the firefighting effort was injured when a bridge overturned and swept the vehicle. The contractor’s injuries were not fatal.

Progress against the flames was too late, for many in the beautiful village of Kalamath River, which before the fire was home to around 200 people, burned to ashes, along with the post office, community center and other buildings. .

At an evacuation center on Wednesday, Bill Sims said three of the four victims were his neighbors. There were two married couples who lived across the street.

“I don’t get passionate about stuff and material things,” Sims said. “But when you hear that my next-door neighbors died… it gets a little sentimental.”

Courtney Creder, a spokeswoman for the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, said their names had not been officially confirmed, which could take several days.

The 65-year-old retired Sims bought his property six years ago as a second home for hunting and fishing. He went back on Tuesday to check his property and found it was destroyed.

“The house, guest house and RV were gone. It’s just wasteland, devastation,” Sims said. He found the body of one of his two cats, which he buried. The other cat is still missing. He was able to take his two dogs with him to the shelter.

Harleen Schwander, 82, lost her home just a month ago to be close to her son and daughter-in-law. His house survived but his house was set on fire.

Schwander, an artist, said she only managed to take a few family photos and some jewelry before the evacuation. Everything else, including her art collection, went up in flames.

“I’m sad. Everyone says it was just stuff, but that’s all I had,” she said.

Meanwhile, firefighters expect to completely engulf a 1,000-acre (404-hectare) spot fire on the north side of the McKinney Fire on Thursday.

In the southeast, wet weather was a concern for burn scars from last year’s large wildfires on the eastern front of the Sierra. The Weather Service issued a flood watch for Thursday and Friday along the California-Nevada line. These included areas burned in the Caldor Fire east of Sacramento and the Tamarack Fire west and south of Lake Tahoe.

Despite scattered storms, much of California and the rest of the West in drought and the risk of wildfires high, the worst fire season historically is yet to come. Fires are burning and destroying homes and threatening communities in Montana, Idaho and Nebraska.

Scientists say climate change has made the West hotter and drier over the past three decades and will make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. California has seen its biggest, most devastating and deadliest wildfires in the past five years.

In northwestern Montana, fires have destroyed at least four homes and forced the evacuation of about 150 homes west of Flathead Lake, pushed north by winds Wednesday, fire officials said. Gone.

The Moose Fire in Idaho has burned more than 85 square miles (220 sq km) in the Salmon-Forty National Forest, while salmon threaten homes, mining operations and fisheries near the city.

And wildfires in northwestern Nebraska caused many homes to be evacuated and destroyed or damaged near the small town of Gering.


Weber reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press journalist Lisa Bauman in Seattle, Amy Hanson in Helena, Montana; Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska; and Keith Riddler in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

World Nation News Desk
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