Crews battle wildfires raging across California, Alaska and Arizona
JUNEAU, Alaska/PHOENIX (Reuters) - Wildfires raging in three West Coast states have forced more than 1,000 people to be evacuated from their homes this week in blazes that mark an early start to what experts say may be a particularly destructive ...
JUNEAU, Alaska/PHOENIX (Reuters) - Wildfires raging in three West Coast states have forced more than 1,000 people to be evacuated from their homes this week in blazes that mark an early start to what experts say may be a particularly destructive fire season.
The fires, spread by wind and exacerbated by very dry conditions, have already consumed more than 100 structures in Alaska, and were threatening others in drought-hit California and Arizona. In Oregon, officials imposed new 12-county restrictions on the use of flammables such as fireworks.
In a national forest outside Los Angeles, some 500 firefighters backed by air tankers and bulldozers were battling the timber-and-grass fueled Lake Fire, which was raging across some 1,500 acres (600 hectares) and was just 5 percent contained, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.
More than 150 people were forced to evacuate various camps, as officials closed hiking trails and roads, and structures were threatened, the county said.
In Alaska, crews of up to nearly 500 firefighters have been battling two massive fires all week that have destroyed more than 100 structures, forced nearly 1,000 people from their homes and restricted traffic on a major highway.
The first fire, which began on Sunday, has covered more than 7,500 acres (3,000 hectares) and the second blaze, which erupted Monday afternoon, has reached, 3,000 acres (1,400 hectares) so far.
As those blazes raged on, firefighters in Arizona reported on Thursday that they were beating back a now 400-acre (160-hectare) brush fire burning near the small town of Kearny, southeast of Phoenix, that had forced about 300 area residents from their homes.
By mid-morning, roughly half of the evacuees had been allowed to return home as more than 250 firefighters worked on the ground and in the air to keep the blaze away from any additional structures.
The blaze, which broke out on Wednesday and was so far uncontained, has burned at least three residences and two other structures, plus a vehicle, fire officials said.
In Oregon, where officials say the fire season and high fire danger has started at least a month early, the state's department of forestry is increasing fire prevention restrictions on non-federal and private lands across 12 counties from Friday.
The restrictions prohibit smoking in vehicles, starting campfires, and setting off fireworks, among others.
"We are at a point where new wildfires are growing quickly and becoming more difficult and expensive to control," District Forester George Ponte said in a statement.
Reporting by Steve Quinn