Thou­sands flee Calif fires, state of emer­gency in Bri­tish Columbia

State of emer­gency in Bri­tish Columbia

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

More than a dozen wild­fires were rag­ing across Cal­i­for­nia yes­ter­day forc­ing thou­sands of res­i­dents of the most pop­u­lous US state to flee their homes. Fur­ther to the north, the Cana­dian prov­ince of Bri­tish Columbia was un­der a state of emer­gency as fire crews there also bat­tled blazes fueled by sear­ing tem­per­a­tures and high winds. The worst of the brush fires in Cal­i­for­nia was the Alamo fire in San Luis Obispo County, which had burned nearly 29,000 acres (117 sq km) as of Mon­day morn­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion known as Cal Fire.

More than 1,200 fire per­son­nel were bat­tling the Alamo blaze, Cal Fire said, adding that hot and dry con­di­tions were ex­pected to con­tinue for the next sev­eral days and the in­ferno has been only 15 per­cent con­tained so far. The Cal­i­for­nia fires have forced the evac­u­a­tion of around 8,000 peo­ple while an­other 10,000 have fled their homes in Bri­tish Columbia, Canada’s west­ern­most prov­ince, where around 200 blazes of vary­ing de­grees of in­ten­sity have been re­ported.

The Alamo fire, which be­gan four days ago, has spread to Santa Bar­bara County, ap­prox­i­mately mid­way be­tween San Francisco and Los An­ge­les, and is cur­rently the state’s largest ac­tive fire, ac­cord­ing to Cal Fire. Fire con­tain­ment ef­forts were par­tic­u­larly aimed at guard­ing moun­tain peaks hold­ing vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture such as a high­volt­age line that de­liv­ers power to nearby cities, ac­cord­ing to the Los An­ge­les Times news­pa­per.

An­other fire in Santa Bar­bara County, the Whit­tier fire, is threat­en­ing hun­dreds of homes in the Santa Ynez Val­ley and forced the evac­u­a­tion of nearly 150 chil­dren and coun­selors from a youth camp over the week­end, au­thor­i­ties said. DC-10 tanker air­craft were spread­ing fire re­tar­dant in a bid to pre­vent the fire, which has en­gulfed some 10,800 acres (48 sq km), from spread­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Los Padres Na­tional For­est ser­vice. The Whit­tier fire has de­stroyed 20 struc­tures and is threat­en­ing 150 more, ac­cord­ing to Cal Fire.

Area res­i­dent Sarah Gustafson told the Los An­ge­les Times that she was get­ting her tires changed when she saw a pil­lar of smoke ris­ing and re­al­ized her six cats were trapped at home. She rushed back and man­aged to save the an­i­mals, and de­scribed a sky painted or­ange and black and “flames up on the ridge”. “It was ter­ri­fy­ing,” she told the pa­per. “When I got home it was smoky with ash.” She then scram­bled back to a Red Cross shel­ter park­ing lot where she and her cats spent the night.

An­other blaze, the Wall fire in north­ern Butte County, has burned some 5,600 acres (23 sq km) and has been 35 per­cent con­tained as of Mon­day morn­ing, ac­cord­ing to Cal Fire. Four peo­ple have been in­jured by the Wall fire, ac­cord­ing to the au­thor­i­ties. Most of south­ern Cal­i­for­nia in­clud­ing metropoli­tan Los An­ge­les has been in the grips of a blis­ter­ing heat wave with tem­per­a­tures reach­ing as high as 43 de­grees Cel­sius.

In Bri­tish Columbia, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has de­clared a state of emer­gency as thou­sands of fire­fight­ers bat­tle blazes across the sprawl­ing ter­ri­tory. Kevin Skrep­nek, chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for the BC Wild­fire Ser­vice, told the Na­tional Post that light­ning storms on Fri­day had ig­nited many of the fires fol­low­ing a pro­longed dry spell. “We’re fo­cus­ing now on public safety, keep­ing these fires away from com­mu­ni­ties, pro­tect­ing trans­porta­tion routes, things like that,” Skrep­nek said.

Wild­fires are com­mon in Cal­i­for­nia and other parts of the Amer­i­can west over the sum­mer. In April, Cal­i­for­nia Gover­nor Jerry Brown de­clared an of­fi­cial end to the state’s drought that lasted more than five years. But he kept in place wa­ter re­port­ing re­quire­ments, as well as bans on prac­tices such as wa­ter­ing dur­ing or fol­low­ing rain­fall and hos­ing off side­walks. —AFP

—AFP

PARIS: US army 1st Divi­sion, US air force, US Navy and US Marines, march down the Champs El­y­sees, with the Arc de Tri­om­phe in the back­ground, in Paris dur­ing a re­hearsal of the an­nual Bastille Day mil­i­tary pa­rade.

—AFP

OROVILLE, Cal­i­for­nia: Fire­fight­ers save a US flag as flames from a wild­fire close in on a lux­ury home on July 8, 2017.

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