Fireplace threatens properties in California, whereas fires burn within the west | politics

QUINCY, Calif. (AP) – Thousands of homes in Northern California were threatened by the largest forest fire in the country on Sunday, and officials warned the risk of new fires in the west was high due to the unstable weather.

Thunderstorms that moved in from Friday didn’t produce much rain, but whipped winds and generated lightning strikes in the northern Sierra, where crews battled the month-old Dixie Fire. Extreme heat returned on Sunday with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsius).

“We are definitely still dealing with the possibility of lightning. Winds are everywhere. In the next few days it will be quite unstable, ”said fire department spokesman Edwin Zuniga.

Gusts of up to 80 km / h on Saturday pushed the flames closer to Janesville, a town of about 1,500 people east of Greenville, the small gold rush-era community that was decimated by the fire 10 days ago.

James Reichle was evacuated from Greenville and slept with his dog in a trailer outside a church. His house survived the flames but he couldn’t return because the streets are closed. He said he sympathized with his neighbors at the evacuation center who have lost everything.

“These are all people who either don’t have a home or don’t have access to a home. I still have a house, no damage. But I can’t go into that, “he said on Saturday.

The Dixie Fire was the largest of more than 100 great flames that burned in more than a dozen states in the west, a region scorched by drought and hot, bone-dry weather that turned forests, scrub, meadows and pastures to tinder.

The U.S. Forest Service said Friday that it is operating in crisis mode, fully deploying firefighters and maximizing its support system.

The roughly 21,000 federal firefighters working on site are more than twice as many firefighters sent to contain forest fires at the time a year ago, said Anthony Scardina, deputy ranger for the agency’s Pacific Southwest region.

More than 6,000 firefighters fought the Dixie Fire, which devastated almost 2,246 square kilometers – an area the size of Tokyo. It was 31% included on Sunday.

More than 1,000 homes and businesses were destroyed and nearly 15,000 buildings were still threatened.

The cause has not been determined. Pacific Gas and Electric announced that the fire may have started when a tree fell on its power line.

Meanwhile, a small wildfire that erupted east of Salt Lake City on Saturday, temporarily paralyzing Interstate 80 and leading to evacuation orders for about 8,000 homes, was caused by a vehicle with a defective catalytic converter, Utah Fire Info said.

The fire in Parleys Canyon, estimated at just under 1.5 square kilometers, calmed down significantly overnight and homes were no longer at risk, officials said Sunday.

In southeast Montana, firefighters gained ground from two fires that ate their way through wide pastures and eventually threatened the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

The fires were caused by the heat of coal seams found in the ground in the area, said Peggy Miller, a spokeswoman for the fires.

Mandatory evacuations for the city of Lame Deer tribal headquarters continued on Saturday due to poor air quality.

Smoke also resulted in unhealthy or very unhealthy levels of air pollution in parts of Northern California, Oregon, and Idaho.

In southeast Oregon on Thursday, two lightning-triggered forest fires spread rapidly through juniper trees, mugwort and evergreen trees.

The Patton Meadow Fire, west of Lakeview, near the California border, exploded in less than 24 hours in a landscape that was dried out by extreme drought, covering 28 square kilometers.

Hot weather and bone-dry conditions in Oregon could increase the risk of fire over the weekend, forecasters said.

Climate change has made the western United States warmer and drier over the past 30 years and, according to scientists, will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more devastating.

Weber answered from Los Angeles. Associated Press Writer Daisy Nguyen of Oakland, California; Matthew Brown of Billings, Montana; and Sara Cline of Portland, Oregon contributed to this report.

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