Wild­fires rage as Cal­i­for­nia siz­zles

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The first ma­jor wild­fires after the end of Cal­i­for­nia’s five-year drought raged across the state Satur­day, as it was gripped by a record-break­ing heat wave. Some 3,000 fire­fight­ers were bat­tling sev­eral blazes with triple-digit tem­per­a­tures recorded in val­leys and in­land ar­eas. A wild­fire in the Sierra Ne­vada foothills north of Sacra­mento was only two per­cent con­tained by early evening and had de­stroyed 10 homes, scorch­ing 2,000 acres of for­est and spark­ing evac­u­a­tions and road clo­sures.

The Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion (CalFire) said five res­i­dents and a fire­fighter had sus­tained mi­nor in­juries. Mean­while a blaze that forced evac­u­a­tions in San Luis Obispo County tripled in size from Satur­day morn­ing to 19,000 acres by the evening. Fanned by hot, dry winds, it was just 10 per­cent con­tained, CalFire said.

Some 17 wild­fires in var­i­ous states of con­tain­ment were burn­ing in Cal­i­for­nia Satur­day, from the Six Rivers Na­tional For­est in the north to the San Bernardino For­est east of Los An­ge­les.

An ex­ces­sive heat warning has been ex­tended un­til 11:00 pm (0600 GMT) for much of south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, with tem­per­a­ture records be­ing bro­ken across the re­gion. Down­town Los An­ge­les tied the 1954 record of 96 de­grees Fahren­heit while the city’s north­west­ern sub­urb of Wood­land Hills reached a high of 109 de­grees, break­ing the record of 108 set in 2006. “Dangerous and po­ten­tially lifethreat­en­ing heat is ex­pected through (to­day), when high tem­per­a­tures be­tween 100 and 110 de­grees are ex­pected for many in­te­rior sec­tions of south­west Cal­i­for­nia,” the Na­tional Weather Service (NWS) said in a state­ment.

The weather service at­trib­uted the heat wave to a “strong up­per-level high-pressure sys­tem cen­tered over the desert south­west,” adding that the heat wave could con­tinue. “Hot tem­per­a­tures will cre­ate a dangerous sit­u­a­tion in which there is an in­creased threat of heat-re­lated ill­nesses. The ex­tended heat wave will also bring el­e­vated fire weather con­di­tions through the week­end,” said the NWS. Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor Jerry Brown in April de­clared the of­fi­cial end of the state’s drought that lasted more than five years.

But he kept in place wa­ter re­port­ing re­quire­ments, as well as bans on prac­tices like wa­ter­ing dur­ing or fol­low­ing rain­fall and hos­ing off side­walks. “This drought emer­gency is over, but the next drought could be around the cor­ner,” Brown said in a state­ment. “Con­ser­va­tion must re­main a way of life.”

— AP

CAL­I­FOR­NIA: Fire­fight­ers bat­tle a wild­fire as it threat­ens to jump a road near Oroville, Cal­i­for­nia.

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