Friday, October 15, 2021

Western wildfires rise, but better weather helps crews

by Nathan Howard, The Associated Press

BLY, Ore. – Low winds and better weather helped crews using bulldozers and helicopters battling the nation’s largest wildfire in southern Oregon, while northern California wildfires crossed into Nevada, causing blazes to burn to the west Due to withdrawal.

Oregon’s bootleg fire grew to 624 square miles (1,616 square kilometers) – more than half the size of Rhode Island. However, officials said higher humidity and better conditions on Wednesday and night allowed workers to improve the lines of the fire. The fire was also approaching an area burned by previous fires on its active southeastern edge, raising hopes that fuel shortages may reduce its spread and the forecast was for favorable firefighting weather again on Thursday.

“Over the past few days, firefighters and support personnel have made significant progress in controlling this fire,” incident commander Trainee Joe Pramer of Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 2 said in a statement. “However, we still have a long road ahead of us to ensure the safety of the surrounding communities.”

The Oregon fire, which was struck by lightning, has ravaged the sparsely populated southern part of the state and pushed up by strong winds and severely dry weather, expanding up to 4 miles (6 kilometers) a day. Was.

More than a third of the fires being fought by more than 2,200 people have now been brought under control.

On Thursday, officials said that at least nine people who worked in the fire had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Oregon Department of Forestry said people who test positive are turned away from the main fire camp. In addition, people who report symptoms and anyone they work closely with are tested and put in isolation till the results are back.

At least 2,000 homes were ordered to be evacuated during the fire and an additional 5,000 were threatened. At least 70 houses and more than 100 buildings have been burnt, but no one has been reported dead.

Meanwhile the Tamarack fire south of Lake Tahoe had burned more than 78 square miles (202 square kilometers) of wood and head-high chaparral in national forest land. It erupted on July 4 and was one of nearly two dozen blasts caused by lightning strikes.

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More than 1,200 firefighters were battling the Alpine County fire, which destroyed at least 10 buildings, forced evacuations in several communities and closed off parts of US 395 in Nevada and California. Fire officials expected active or extreme fire behavior Thursday, with winds of 14 mph (23 kph) and temperatures near 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius).

“They are continuously calling for hot, dry and windy conditions. Obviously, this is a matter of concern. Those winds pick up every afternoon,” said Tamarack Fire Incident Command’s public information officer Tracey LeClaire.

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