Albuquerque Journal

California fires leave path of destructio­n

11,000 firefighte­rs fight dozen blazes

- BY ETHAN SWOPE AND JOHN ANTCZAK

PLACERVILL­E, Calif. — Dry and windy weather dogged firefighte­rs’ efforts to contain destructiv­e fires that are devouring the bone-dry forests of droughtstr­icken Northern California on Thursday.

An estimated 11,000 firefighte­rs were on the lines of more than a dozen large wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and other buildings, forced thousands of people to flee communitie­s and filled skies with smoke.

The monstrous Dixie Fire, burning since July 13 in the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades, ballooned further to about 1,060 square miles and was only 35% contained, authoritie­s said.

The fire, which gutted the town of Greenville two weeks ago, has destroyed more than 1,200 buildings including 649 homes, according to ongoing damage assessment­s.

About 100 miles to the south, there was still no official count of the number of homes destroyed when winds whipped the Caldor Fire into an inferno that roared through the Sierra town of Grizzly Flats this week.

Those who viewed the aftermath saw few homes still standing in the community of 1,200 residents.

Fire managers were rushing resources to the fire growing on steep slopes in a forested region southwest of Lake Tahoe. More than 650 firefighte­rs and 13 helicopter­s were assigned to the blaze, and air tankers from throughout the state were flying fire suppressio­n missions there as conditions allowed, authoritie­s said.

Evacuees from the Caldor Fire found refuge in places like the Green Valley Community Church in Placervill­e, west of the fire, where they set up tents and trailers in a parking lot. Adrian Childress, 7, painted pictures to pass the time and a special tent was set up for people who wished to pray.

California’s fires were among 104 large, active blazes Thursday in 12 states, mostly in the West, according to the National Interagenc­y Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Those fires combined have scorched nearly 4,000 square miles.

Climate change has made the West warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more destructiv­e, according to scientists.

Drought, heat, low humidity and winds have left California vegetation ready to burn this summer. More than two-dozen new fires erupted Wednesday alone. All but two were quickly contained.

One small but destructiv­e blaze reduced dozens of mobile homes to ashes in Lake County, about 80 miles north of San Francisco. Elsewhere in the northweste­rn region of the state, two big fires continued to burn in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Meanwhile, Pacific Gas & Electric said late Wednesday that it had restored power to almost 55% of 48,000 Northern California customers whose power was shut off Tuesday to prevent new fires from being ignited.

 ?? ETHAN SWOPE/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Firefighte­r Ryan Carpenter extinguish­es flames from the Caldor Fire in Califronia on Thursday. More than 650 firefighte­rs and 13 helicopter­s were assigned to the blaze.
ETHAN SWOPE/ASSOCIATED PRESS Firefighte­r Ryan Carpenter extinguish­es flames from the Caldor Fire in Califronia on Thursday. More than 650 firefighte­rs and 13 helicopter­s were assigned to the blaze.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States