New blazes break out as progress made on Holy Fire
BOISE/LAKE ELSINORE: Six large new wildfires have erupted in the United States, pushing the number of major active blazes nationwide to more than 100, and more are expected to break out, sparked by lightning strikes on bonedry terrain, authorities said yesterday.
More than 30,000 personnel, including firefighters from across the United States and nearly 140 from Australia and New Zealand, were battling the blazes, which had consumed more than 648,000ha, the National Interagency Coordination Centre (NICC) said.
‘‘We are expecting that there will be more firestarts today,’’ Jeremy Grams, lead forecaster with the Storm Prediction Centre in Oklahoma, said.
He said dry thunderstorms, which produce lightning but little rain, were expected for parts of the Rocky Mountain region, while the US northwest had critical fireweather conditions that included strong winds and low relative humidity.
Firefighters were battling another day of extremely hot temperatures and strong winds yesterday, the NICC said.
The fires have scorched states from Washington to New Mexico. California is among the hardest hit.
A mechanic helping to fight the Carr Fire, near Redding in northern California, was killed in a car crash on Friday, the eighth person to die in that fire.
The 77,243ha Carr Fire has destroyed nearly 1100 homes.
About 160km southwest of that fire, about 3500 firefighters are battling the Mendocino Complex Fire, which had burned 132,828ha as of yesterday and is the largest fire on record in California.
Meanwhile, firefighters have made significant progress against the Holy Fire in the Cleveland National Forest near Lake Elsinore, raising its containment from 10% to 29%.
The blaze has been burning along inaccessible ridges and mountains in Orange and River side counties since Tuesday, chewing through bonedry chaparral, short grass and brush that have not seen a fire in decades.
As of yesterday morning, the fire — named for Holy Jim Canyon Rd, near where it started — had burned 8690ha and 12 structures, officials said. A damage assessment team was working yesterday to determine whether more structures had been damaged or destroyed.
The Holy Fire has injured three firefighters and displaced more than 20,000 people. It was intentionally set, officials said.
Orange County authorities have arrested Forrest Gordon Clark (51) and charged him with multiple counts of arson in connection with the fire.
He appeared in court in Santa Ana on Saturday and his arraignment is set for August 17. — Reuters/TNS
Brought to light . . . Two vehicles that went down the hillside some time ago are uncovered by the Holy Fire at Lake Elsinore.