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California wildfires 2013 - 2015

Dangerous wildfire season predicted for California
4/26/13  LOS ANGELES (AP) — Californians can expect a dangerous summer wildfire season due to a dry winter that has left the normally green hills of spring parched and tinder-dry, authorities warned.
State fire crews have responded to more than 680 wildfires since the beginning of the year — some 200 more than average for the period. They included several 300- and 400-acre blazes around the state.

Local fire crews also have been busy. Last weekend, a fire in the foothills above Monrovia, northeast of Los Angeles, prompted the evacuation of about 200 homes. A wind-whipped, 170-acre wildfire earlier this month burned two houses and threatened 160 others in rural Ventura County before.

Last week, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection increased staffing in Southern California and moved air tankers to bases in preparation for what promises to be one of the driest years on record, according to a statement released Wednesday.
The Angeles National Forest, which covers more than 1,000 square miles north of Los Angeles, planned to raise its fire danger level from moderate to high on Friday and to bring in dozens of seasonal firefighters early Sunday.

Lack of rain has left chaparral and brush as dry now as they usually get in June, said forest fire information officer Nathan Judy. It would take a storm dumping 2 1/2 inches of rain to reduce that danger — and that is unlikely, he said.

"We're coming into the summer and we're not going to get a whole lot of rain, we know that," he said.
Judy urged campers and visitors to be careful with their campfires and cigarettes and to avoid parking cars on the dry brush, where a hot muffler or a spark could set it ablaze.

Humans cause at least 90 percent of fires in the forest, he said.
The water content of California's snowpack, which normally provides about a third of California's water, was only 52 percent of average at a time when it normally is at its peak, according to a Department of Water Resources survey released last month.

That was due, in part, to a record dry January and February, the agency reported
Cloudy days have failed deliver, dropping only scattered showers measurable in the hundredths of an inch.

The country has been locked into a weather pattern that has seen storms roll down from Alaska eastward, bringing rain and snow to the center of the country but only dry winds to California, said Eric Boldt, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Since Jan. 1, downtown Los Angeles has received about 2 inches of rain, instead of the usual 10 inches, and much of the state has seen record dry conditions, he said.

"We're about two months ahead of where we should be in terms of drying out," Boldt said. "People might notice as they're driving the freeways that the hills are getting brown. Typically, they'd be green."
With its wettest months behind it, California probably won't see any significant rain until fall, Boldt said.
"It doesn't look promising," he said.

Wind-fueled wildfire erupts east of Los Angeles
01 May 2013
- A Southern California wildfire fueled by strong winds was raging through 2 1/2 square miles of Riverside County on Wednesday as wind-fanned fires scorched parts of wine country north of San Francisco.
The fast-moving wildfire about 90 miles east of Los Angeles broke out just after noon and was moving westward through largely undeveloped foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, but it was dangerously close to subdivisions to the south, in Banning.

At least 425 firefighters were working to gain control of the fast-moving fire, which has destroyed one structure and is 30 percent contained, said Jody Hagemann, spokeswoman for the county fire department. Six helicopters and six air tankers were making water drops.
Authorities ordered the evacuation of the Highland Springs Mobile Home Park, where there are about 200 homes. Evacuations were also ordered for homes on two streets, but the number of people affected was not immediately known.

Joe Kiener, 53, was on his lunch hour at the childhood home where he still lives when he saw smoke approaching. He and his dog were already pulling out when a deputy came up and told him to evacuate. A few hours later the house was destroyed.
"It's a total loss," Kiener told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. "It really hasn't hit me yet. But it hurts me to lose the house."

The house next door was untouched after a timely wind change.
"It was close!" Kiener's neighbor David Pena said. "God's grace, man. It's a miracle."
Winds of 29 mph were driving the fire, and if they continued, the fire could reach communities in Cherry Valley and Beaumont.
Much of Southern California was under red flag warnings for fire danger due to heat, wind and low humidity levels.

In Northern California, firefighters were battling fires fueled by gusty winds in wine country.
In Sonoma County, the Yellow Fire north of Calistoga was less than half contained after burning 125 acres. The Silverado Fire near Yountville, in Napa County, burned an even smaller area and was 75 percent contained.
State fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said neither fire was threatening structures, but the blazes across of California could be an ominous sign.

"Statewide, our fire activity is up over 60 percent of normal," Berlant said. "It has everything to do with the fact that conditions are so dry, then you add wind, making the perfect conditions for a fire."
Forecasters said high pressure over the Great Basin would send Santa Ana winds through and below passes and canyons and near coastal foothills until Thursday afternoon.

"We're a bit drier than normal at this time and seeing conditions that we would usually see in June," Berlant said. "If this is an indicator of what's to come, then we're going to be in for a very busy fire season."
In Butte County, a fast-moving blaze called the Panther Fire has burned about half a square mile since it was sparked Wednesday morning, state fire officials said.
A fire in the Central Valley county of Madera that burned 274 acres was fully contained.

California wildfire jumps aqueduct, threatens homes
July  31, 2010  
A huge wildfire in the high desert wilderness north of Los Angeles jumped an aqueduct on Friday, rushing toward hundreds of houses as firefighters also tried to keep flames from damaging power lines that bring electricity to Southern California. Some 2,000 structures were threatened and 300 homes were evacuated, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said.

Destiny Brown, 19, stood beside her family's tan Ford Taurus waiting for her mother and sisters to finish packing so they could leave their home in a smoke-clogged Delta Ridge subdivision on the outskirts of Palmdale.
"I never thought it would happen. I only thought it's on TV. It's really scary," the 19-year-old said of the flames that burned just out of sight.
When their home filled with smoke, the family decided it was time to go. Brown said she was especially concerned about her 10-month-old brother who has asthma.

In the adjacent Amber Ridge subdivision, Barbara Murphy, 62, said she decided to stay put even though she and other residents in the development had lost power.

She said she felt secure in the center of the subdivision and had come through several fires unscathed during her decades living in the Antelope Valley.
"I've lived here for 43 years and I've never left the scene of a fire," she said.

Winds apparently carried embers across the wide concrete channel, with flames rapidly spreading to backyard fences at the edge of Palmdale. Plumes of smoke streamed across the city of 139,000 as a predicted afternoon increase in winds finally arrived.

Helicopters dipped buckets into the aqueduct to make rapid water drops. No homes immediately appeared to have been damaged. Numerous fire engines were in the area. A giant Boeing 747 supertanker arrived over Palmdale to join the battle.

"As you see, we are deploying everything that we've got," Schwarzenegger said at the fire command post.
Sustained winds of 10 mph to 20 mph were reported, said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Matt Levesque.
"We are actively moving resources to defend that area," he said.

Most of the homes in the area, however, are of recent construction with fire resistant roofs, stucco walls, boxed eaves and landscaped with fire-resistant vegetation, he said. No evacuations were ordered but were recommended.

Temperatures neared 100 degrees with single-digit relative humidity and the National Weather Service predicted gusts in the area up to 50 mph Friday night. The fire has burned more than 20 square miles since erupting Thursday afternoon and was 20 percent contained, Schwarzenegger said.

Elsewhere in the battle, aircraft bombarded flames on ridges above the Antelope Valley on the southern edge of the Mojave Desert, while 1,370 firefighters working in high heat sought to outflank the blaze no matter which way it moved.

"We want to pinch it off and call it done," fire Capt. Andrew Olvera said.

Deputy Fire Chief Michael Bryant said an investigation into the cause of the fire is centering on workers who were hammering on some bolts to remove a tire rim. The workers were cooperating with the investigation.

The blaze spread rapidly after breaking out at midafternoon Thursday, triggering overnight evacuations of about 2,000 homes in rural areas and down to the western side of Palmdale.
One house and three mobile home residences were destroyed, another house had roof damage and various other outbuildings and garages were lost in the horse country region, authorities said.

Maria Norton, 19, expected to be home Friday evening preparing for Saturday's Miss Antelope Valley pageant.
Instead, this year's Miss Leona Valley is in a motel, worrying about the health of her horse, Sally, after fire destroyed her family's stable.
"It's kind of all a big nightmare," Norton said.
The college sophomore packed her purple pageant dress and fled her family's home in a sparsely populated area Thursday after freeing Sally just before flames engulfed the barn.

Sheriff's deputies urged the family to flee before Sally could be loaded into a trailer and hauled away to safety.
Overnight, Norton learned that animal rescuers had taken Sally to local fairgrounds where large animals were being sheltered during the fire.
When Norton went to visit Sally on Friday afternoon, the horse wasn't doing well.
"She's very sluggish. Not upbeat," she said. "It's taking a toll on her."

Southern California Edison said the fire threatened five high-voltage transmission lines, but the California grid operator had put additional generation resources online and customers were not expected to be affected if the utility lost those lines.

Only 21 SCE customers in the fire area were without power.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power asked its customers to reduce electrical usage until the threat eased, but added that it had begun local generation and its system was functioning normally.

A DC-10 jumbo jet tanker that can carry 12,000-gallon loads dropped retardant, leaving orange slashes across ridges. Four other air tankers and nine helicopters also attacked the flames.
The fire broke out near a state highway that snakes through the San Gabriel Mountains, connecting Los Angeles to the high desert.

Elsewhere, good weather in neighboring Kern County helped firefighters build containment lines around two wildfires that destroyed homes in remote mountain communities earlier in the week.

To the north, a fire that destroyed eight residences and a few outbuildings as it spread across about 26 square miles of the Sequoia National Forest in the Sierra Nevada was 55 percent contained, authorities said.

California wildfire jumps aqueduct, threatens homes
July  31, 2010  
 A huge wildfire burned through high desert north of Los Angeles, destroying buildings and forcing people from about 2,000 homes.  The wildfire jumped an aqueduct as firefighters tried to keep flames from damaging power lines that bring electricity to Southern California.

500 homes in Rancho Vista were told to shelter in place until further notice so that roads remain clear for the movement of fire equipment.
Hopefully they dont wait too long - as sometimes happens in fast moving fire!  Antelope Valley, Delta Ridge are also affected.

In Amber Ridge a woman decided to stay put even though she and other residents had lost power.
Winds apparently carried embers across a concrete channel, with flames rapidly spreading to backyard fences at the edge of Palmdale.
A  DC-10 tanker dropped retardant on top of Hauser Peak to protect microwave towers in Palmadale.

Interesting Comments by residents .... hmmmm

Was driving near Malibu Canyon today, and the brush looked really dry there, and yet all the fire posted signs said LOW. All the canyons in LA Co. and Ventura Co. are dry.
The Butler fire that almost burned my house in 07 up here was from a fire that they never put out because they didn't want to.

Fire crews gain ground in high desert north of Los Angeles
July 31, 2010
 A wildfire smoldered in the high desert north of Los Angeles, spewing plumes of thick smoke that promted air quality warnings as hundreds of firefighters worked to contain the 2-day-old blaze.
The fire has charred nearly 22 square miles of brush in the Antelope Valley. It was 82 percent contained Saturday evening and no structures were threatened, said Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Don Kunitomi.

Some 1,300 firefighters were assigned to the fire near Palmdale, a city of 139,000. The crews were concentrating on digging up any remaining brush along the containment lines established around the blaze, Kunitomi said.
"The main objective is always to get a cold trail cut around the fire line," he said.  The firefighters' primary concern was that winds could re-ignite embers smoldering throughout the blackened hillsides, Kunitomi said.

Crews gain ground on wildfire

Hundreds of California homes evacuated in brush fire threat

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A wind-driven brush fire raging northwest of Los Angeles prompted the evacuation of hundreds of homes and a university campus on Thursday as flames engulfed several recreational vehicles and crept toward housing subdivisions.

A second, smaller blaze some 80 miles to the east destroyed two homes and damaged two others before firefighters managed to quickly halt its spread.

The larger fire erupted at about 6:30 a.m. local time beside the U.S. 101 freeway and consumed roughly 2,000 acres of dry, dense chaparral near the communities of Camarillo and Newbury Park, Ventura County fire department officials said.

Department spokesman Bill Nash said no injuries were reported.

But live footage broadcast by Los Angeles television station KTLA showed heavy smoke over the area and flames and engulfing several recreational vehicles parked near the evacuation zone.

An entire residential subdivision called Dos Vientos, encompassing hundreds of homes, was placed under mandatory evacuation orders, Nash said.

Evacuations were also ordered for the California State University at Channel Islands campus, according to a bulletin posted on the fire department website.

More than 200 firefighters were dispatched to battle the blaze, along with several helicopters and planes equipped to drop water and fire retardant chemicals from the air.

A second, separate blaze east of Los Angeles in Riverside County erupted on vegetation of a roadway center divider and quickly swept across 5 acres of brush, destroying two nearby homes before firefighters managed to halt the advancing flames.

Within three hours, the blaze was reported 50 percent contained. In addition to the two homes lost, the fire destroyed five outbuildings, 10 vehicles and a parked boat, Riverside County fire spokesman Mark Annas said.

Two more homes were damaged and an elementary school and gasoline service station were evacuated, but there were no known injuries, he said.

The latest brush fires come at the start of what is expected to be a potentially devastating fire season in Southern California.

A red-flag warning, declaring what the National Weather Service calls "extreme fire danger," was posted for much of Southern California on Wednesday as high winds swept the region, accompanied by soaring temperatures and low humidity

Firefighters battle Southern California wildfire
March 1, 2013
- Firefighters were battling a wildfire on Friday that blazed across 200 acres in the hills of Southern California, authorities said.
No injuries or deaths were reported in the fire that was 30 percent contained as of early Friday, according to the Riverside County, California, fire department.
Weather conditions were windy in the area, where the National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for Friday. It said winds as strong as 35 miles per hour could be expected.

200 firefighters were battling the blaze n in Jurupa Valley near Riverside City, the department said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Riverside City residents lost power but power was restored next day. Voluntary evacuation orders were issued on Thursday but lifted as of Friday, they said.

California wildfire burns nearly 3,000 acres
May 2, 2013
 Firefighters continue to battle what has been a fast-growing Southern California wildfire,one that has already consumed more than 2,950 acres.
The spread of the blaze seemed to slow early Thursday morning and crews gained greater containment, now pegged at 35%, according to the state agency Cal Fire.
The Riverside County Fire Department said 425 firefighters were involved in what's being called the Summit Fire. Six air tankers dropped chemical retardants on the flames.

Unusually Strong Santa Anas, Dryness
May 03, 2013
 The weather in the summer of 2013 in California risk of wildfires.  The fire has spread to 6,500 acres and there is no containment, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.  A quickly spreading wildfire, called the Springs Fire, is burning in Ventura County, Calif. According to the Ventura County Fire Department, it has forced hundreds of evacuations.

Evacuation centers have been set up at the Calvary Community Chapel in Camarillo and Thousand Oaks Community Park. The Ventura County Fire Department reports that recreational vehicles were ablaze in the Camarillo Springs area.
Along with heat, there are gusty winds and very dry conditions in place.
According to AccuWeather Western Forecasting Expert Ken Clark, "I can't remember seeing this magnitude of Santa Ana winds this late in the year."
Winds of 30-40 mph are not helping matters. This magnitude of wind can quickly fan the flames of fires.
'Monster' California wildfire reaches ocean, pushes toward Malibu

Southern California firefighters were battling a growing, brush-fueled wildfire early Friday that had reached the beach in Ventura County and was pushing toward the upscale city of Malibu, officials said.

The so-called Springs Fire, made worse by howling Santa Ana winds and unusually dry vegetation, was within "seven or eight miles" of Malibu at 2 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET), Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash said.

"We've got hot, dirty, unglamorous firefighting work going on right now, guys with shovels trying to scratch out lines on the ground," Nash said early Friday. "We've got those guys on these steep hillsides in the dark with nothing but the light of the fire and a flashlight."

Dry winds from offshore were expected to bring gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour to the Southern California region on Friday, with the winds expected to drop and temperatures to cool into the high 60s later in the day, according to the Weather Channel.

The Springs Fire grew to 10,000 acres and was ten percent contained as of early Friday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention.

An eight-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway was shut down on Thursday night as bright orange flames raced down scrubby hillsides toward the Pacific Ocean.

Evacuations took place Thursday, and as of Friday morning 15 homes had been damaged. More than 2,000 homes and 100 commercial properties were under threat from the fire, Nash said, adding that the numbers could grow as Friday wore on.

"Where it's burning right now, the population is mostly ranches and camps and rural-type properties," he said. "But it doesn't have to go very far to get to some expensive homes and more populated areas. ... It came out literally on the beach and now it's essentially burning down the mountainside toward Malibu."

Though the more than 925 firefighters on the scene got a brief overnight reprieve as the humidity jumped and winds died down, conditions were expected to worsen after sunrise on Friday.

Firefighters expected to receive help from tankers and helicopters in the air after the sun rose on Friday, according to a release from the Ventura County Fire Department.

Santa Ana winds, which blow torrid air from the desert toward the Pacific Ocean, were at a sustained 40 mph Thursday and were expected to return on Friday, though perhaps to a lesser degree, Nash said.

Complicating the situation is the extremely dry plant life left from a season in which only about five inches of rain fell, he added.

Friday "may be the hottest day of the week, and the humidity we do expect to plummet," Nash said. "We’re faced with a situation right now where the vegetation on the hillsides, the moisture level is what we typically see in August."

The cause of the fire remained under investigation Friday. There had been no lightning or other natural fire-starting phenomenon in the area when the blaze began, Nash said.

In Riverside County, hundreds of firefighters had begun to gain control of a wind-lashed 3,000-acre wildfire that consumed one home and led to the evacuation of hundreds of others.

The Ventura County fire started at 6:30 a.m. local time on Thursday (9:30 a.m. ET), Nash said. Firefighters assisted by bulldozers, helicopters and air tankers struggled to reach the brush fire in the rocky terrain.

Live television pictures late Thursday showed a home engulfed in flames and massive plumes of smoke rising above the burn zone. Fire officials on the scene reported no injuries.

Residents in the Dos Vientos area were ordered to evacuate at about 9:45 a.m. local time on Thursday, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. Fire officials told residents they could return home shortly after 6:30 p.m.

Zeke Jaquez, a resident of Camarillo, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, told NBC Los Angeles that he called 911 to report what would become known as the Springs Fire.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s this huge monster,” Jaquez said.

Officials said Friday morning that the Springs Fire was about 10 percent contained, unchanged from the night before even as it continued to spread.

The Riverside County fire, dubbed the Summit Fire, remained at just under 3,000 acres Friday morning and was about 65 percent contained, according to a Cal Fire incident report. Firefighters worked to improve containment lines around the raging blaze that threatened homes on Wednesday, but one building had been destroyed.

Two of the 650 firefighters trying to tame the blaze sustained non-life-threatening injuries, according to the report.

Additionally, more than 1,000 firefighters were battling a third major wildfire, designated the Panther Fire, Thursday night in rugged timberland in Northern California -- in Tehama County about 30 miles east of Chico.

Gusty down-canyon winds were driving the 10,000-acre blaze, according to Cal Fire. It was 10 percent contained Thursday night, when the last report was issued.

NBC News' Jeff Black contributed to this report.

Southern California wildfire threatens college campus
May 2, 2013  
A fast-growing wildfire forced evacuation of neighborhoods and a state university and closed a stretch of the coast highway northwest of Los Angeles.
More than 8,000 acres of rugged, brush-covered terrain were burned by the fire that began during the morning rush hour near a major highway and
commuter route into Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. Local fire officials reported the fire was 10% contained Thursday night.

California State University-Channel Islands, a school with nearly 5,000 students that opened in 2002, was evacuated.
The Ventura County Fire Department said it had sent 20 fire engines to the campus to protect buildings.
Flames were approaching apartments on the eastern edge of the university campus.

California Springs Fire Grows 10,000 Acres in 24 Hours
May 03, 2013
Springs Fire started burning in Ventura County, Thursday morning forcing hundreds of evacuations.
As of 8:30 am Friday, the fire was estimated at 10,000 acres, and it was only 10 percent contained. More than 950 firefighters have been on the scene.
The Pacific Coastal Highway was closed between Las Posas and Yerba Buena.
The Ventura County Fire Department reports that recreational vehicles were ablaze in the Camarillo Springs area.
More than 4,000 homes have been threatened by the wildfire and 15 have sustained damage.
Along with heat, there are gusty winds and very dry conditions in place.

Shift in wind sends Springs Fire toward homes, Hidden Valley evacuating A  shift in the wind blew a curtain of smoke and a wall of flames into a hillside neighborhood of exclusive homes as firefighters continued to battle the out-of-control Springs fire that has blackened more than 10,000 acres in Ventura County.
Just off Deer Creek Road, a strike team of firefighters from
Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena beat back 30-foot-high flames that threatened a dream home topped with a Dutch-style roof.

Monster Springs Fire Grows near the 101 Freeway and burned south to Pacific Coast Highway

The wind shift forced fire commanders to order a new evacuation of homes in a Thousand Oaks neighborhood along a two-mile stretch of road overlooking smoke-filled coastal canyons.

California wildfire grows to 43 square miles
May 4, 2013
A wildfire tearing through a coastal region in Southern California nearly tripled in size as high temperatures fueled the flames, but a fire official said early Saturday that a favorable shift in the weather will likely help crews make progress against the flames.
The fire 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles mushroomed to 43 square miles Friday as 900 firefighters used engines, aircraft, bulldozers and other equipment to battle the flames.
Forecasters said a weekend of increased humidity should help teams fighting the early-season blaze.

'Long, hot, incendiary summer': Early wildfires bode ill for California

Record-setting temperatures, erratic winds and a parched landscape spell a dangerous fire season for California, experts said on Friday as firefighters fought to control several large blazes of a kind that usually would not raise thick plumes of smoke over the horizon until late fall.

“This is definitely a preview of a long, hot, incendiary summer,” said William Patzert, a climatologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada-Flintridge.

A combination of early, powerful gusts from the inland to the coast, called Santa Ana winds, breathed life into the roaring orange flames that devoured brush and raced down hillsides near Malibu toward the Pacific Ocean on Thursday night. The sea-bound winds pour into the southern part of the state from the northeast and southwest, becoming drier and hotter as they approach the coast, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard, Calif.

This week, “all the ingredients” came together across parts of California, Patzert said.

The Spring Fire in Ventura County was 56 percent contained, Cal Fire said on its Twitter feed Saturday evening, after jumping to 28,000 acres on Friday, shutting down a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway for a time and drawing nearly 1,900 fire personnel, eight helicopters, and a half-dozen air tankers. The fire damaged at least 15 residences and dozens of other structures, NBCLosAngeles reported, citing fire officials.

The Summit Fire in Riverside County was fully contained at about 3,166 acres, Cal Fire said. Riverside County fire officials said two firefighters were injured as they worked to draw a line around the flames, which destroyed one home, reported.

More than 1,000 firefighters battled a third blaze, the 6,720-acre Panther Fire, in Tehama County.

“At this point it’s just a question of meteorology, of the Santa Anas, and of course in Southern California 95 percent of the fires are human (caused),” Patzert said. “Fire is fuel plus meteorology plus ignition.”

Many California residents in areas prone to wildfires have known the fear of watching flames lick the borders of their property, but in the past wide-scale destructive fires usually have not struck until summer or fall. A series of 22 major fires across seven Southern California counties destroyed more than 2,200 homes in 2007 – but those fires lasted over three weeks from October to November, according to a report by the Orange County Fire Authority.

The 2009 Station Fire burned over 160,000 acres, destroyed 80 structures, and killed two county firefighters. That fire, the largest in Los Angeles County history, wasn't sparked until late August, according to an after action review. The cost to fully contain the Station Fire topped $95 million, the U.S. Fire Service reported.

“This is certainly one of the earliest fire seasons I remember,” Patzert said.


California Springs fire eases due to damper air
May 5, 2013
A wildfire threatening thousands of homes in southern California is being contained because of cool air blowing in from the Pacific, firefighters say.
They say hot, dry winds have now been replaced by the normal flow of damper air, reducing fire activity.
quickly swept through the Camarillo Springs area on Friday and early on Saturday.
It forced the closure of a section of the Pacific Coast Highway and threatened a naval facility.

Springs fire 56% percent contained and all mandatory evacuation orders were lifted.,0,406948.story

Rain Leaves Thousands Of LADWP, SoCal Edison Customers Without Power
May 6, 2013 LOS ANGELES ( — Thousands of Southland residents were without power Monday morning, primarily due to weather.
More than 11,000 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers and more than 5,000 Southern California Edison customers were powerless as of 9:45 a.m.
LADWP customers in Mar Vista, Palm, Venice, South Los Angeles, Rancho Park and Cheviot Hills were primarily affected.
SoCal Edison customers without power include those living in El Toro, Corona Del Mar, Hacienda Heights, West Covina, Valinda and Hawthorne.
Both companies are actively working on restoring power to all residents.
Anyone in need of more information, can visit the LADWP or SoCal Edison outage pages.

California Fire Grows To 28,000 Acres - 4,000 Homes Threatened; 15 Homes Damaged!

Lately, it seems like So. California hasn't been able to catch a break...

California wildfire forces evacuations
May 28, 2013  
Thousands of residents and hundreds of campers flee the White fire blaze, which has burned about 1,000 acres and dusted Santa Barbara with ashes.
More than 1,000 campers and up to 4,000 residents fled the mountains of Santa Barbara County as a fast-moving wildfire swept through part of Los Padres National Forest and surrounding areas.
The White fire broke out Monday 12 miles north of Santa Barbara and by evening had grown to about 1,000 acres.
The fire was about 5% contained during the evening.
Winds were expected to worsen during the night.
The fire appeared to have started at a campsite.,0,7245671.story
Wildfire: NM fights blazes; Calif. area evacuated

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Fire crews in New Mexico fought two growing wild blazes Saturday that have driven people from their homes and scorched thousands of acres, while a shift in the wind prompted evacuation calls for more than 1,000 homes in California.

New Mexico officials said an uncontained blaze near Santa Fe had spread to nearly 10 square miles, making it apparently the largest of several wildfires burning in the West as it placed the city under a blanket of haze. The thick smoke also covered the Gallinas Canyon and Las Vegas, N.M.

The fire in New Mexico's Santa Fe National Forest is burning just 25 miles from the city, prompting the Red Cross to set up an emergency shelter at a nearby high school.

Officials asked residents in about 140 summer homes to evacuate as a crew of more than 400 battled the flames near the communities of Pecos and Tres Lagunas.

Crews also cleared out campgrounds and closed trailheads in the area as they worked to prevent the fire from moving toward the capital city's watershed and more populated areas.

The state Department of Health warned residents in the Pecos, Santa Fe and Espanola areas to prepare for smoke and take precautions by avoiding prolonged or physical activity outdoors.

"Potentially unhealthy conditions could occur in these communities overnight and into the early morning," a statement released by health officials said.

Another New Mexico blaze, the Thompson Ridge fire near Jemez Springs, grew to nearly two square miles by Saturday night, state forestry officials said. Between 40 and 50 homes in the area were evacuated as more than 200 crew members and a helicopter were fighting the blaze burning through pine forests and brush.

Forecasters said some rain was possible in both fire areas on Sunday as well as gusty winds.

Elsewhere in the West, fire crews worked to beat several other fires, including one in California and another in southwest Colorado.

Residents of more than 1,000 homes were ordered to leave Saturday as erratic winds pushed a wildfire closer to two foothill communities north of Los Angeles.

The wind shifted in several directions, fanning the fire in the Angeles National Forest to nearly 9 square miles, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy.

By dusk, it marched downhill toward Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth, west of Lancaster, he said. He did not know whether any structures have been burned.

Daytime temperatures that topped at 105 degrees and the erratic winds worked against the nearly 1,000 firefighters on the line. Judy said the wind pushed the fire up and down steep slopes, creating embers that sparked spot fires in different directions.

In Colorado, Mike Blakeman, a spokesman for the Rio Grande National Forest, said a fire 15 miles southwest of the small town of Creede was reported at about noon Friday and the cause of it remained under investigation. No structures have been damaged, but three homes and several outbuildings were threatened Saturday.

John Parmenter, director of Scientific Services Division at the nearby Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico, told the Albuquerque Journal that the Thompson Ridge fire ignited Friday in dense territory that was scheduled for thinning in the next few years because it posed a fire hazard.

"The area that it's in is very steep terrain leading up to the Valles Caldera," he said. "It could burn a lot of forest . There's a lot of fuel in there."

New Mexico fights wildfire blazes; California area evacuated
Jun 2, 2013 Firefighting teams in California and New Mexico are battling early season wildfires that have blackened thousands of acres and threatened homes and building, spurring numerous evacuations.
Residents of more than 1,000 homes were ordered to leave as erratic winds pushed a wildfire closer to two foothill communities, where officials said five residences were destroyed Saturday.
Meanwhile, an uncontained blaze near Santa Fe, N.M., had spread to nearly 10 square miles by Saturday night, making it apparently the largest of several wildfires burning in the West as it placed the city under a blanket of haze. The thick smoke also covered the Gallinas Canyon and Las Vegas, N.M.
The fire in New Mexico's Santa Fe National Forest is burning just 25 miles from the city, prompting the Red Cross to set up an emergency shelter at a nearby high school.
Officials asked residents in about 140 homes, mainly summer residences, to evacuate as a crew of more than 400 battled the flames near the communities of Pecos and Tres Lagunas.
Crews also cleared out campgrounds and closed trailheads in the area as they worked to prevent the fire from moving toward the capital city's watershed and more populated areas.

Powerhouse fire being fought by more than 2,000 personnel
2,000 fire personnel from throughout California are now battling the nearly 20,000-acre Powerhouse fire that has destroyed six homes in the Palmdale area, officials said.
Fanned by erratic winds and 100-degree temperatures, the fire grew quickly overnight from 5,500 acres to 19,500 acres, forcing evacuations throughout the area, said Matt Corelli, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. The fire is 20% contained.
“We had winds and a canyon in alignment in the same direction,” Corelli said. “Once you got them parallel it was like a chimney effect, with the fire pushing through vegetation and embers were flying ahead [and igniting]. So you had fire on top of fire.”,0,2281159.story

Powerhouse Fire Jumps to 19,500 Acres, Burns 5 Structures; 3 Firefighters Injured
June 2, 2013
A fire broke out near a hydroelectric plant in Santa Clarita on Thursday has grown to more than 5,500 acres and has prompted numerous evacuations.
The Powerhouse Fire grew to 19,500 acres in northern Los Angeles County after a hot and windy Saturday, burning structures and prompting evacuations in rugged areas between the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys.

At least five homes have burned in the blaze, said Los Angeles County Fire spokesman Keith Mora.
About 1,000 structures were threatened in the burn area, he said.
Three firefighters have been injured, and 960 firefighters, assisted by planes and helicopters, were expected to keep up the aerial and ground assault against flames on Saturday. The blaze was 20 percent contained, said John Wagner of the U.S. Forest Service.
The USFS told NBC News the fire had burned 19,500 acres as of 2:15 a.m. PT Sunday. That was up from 5,561 acres as of 1:40 a.m PT.
Temperatures reached the triple digits in some areas, including near the fire.

Thousands evacuated as crews fight Calif. wildfire
June 2, 2013
 LANCASTER, Calif.  A wildfire that destroyed at least six homes, damaged 15 others and threatened hundreds more grew quickly Sunday as it triggered evacuations for nearly 3,000 people and burned dangerously close to communities in the parched mountains north of Los Angeles.

The blaze had burned about 35 square miles of very dry brush in the Angeles National Forest mountains and canyons, some of which hadn't burned since 1929. The fire was growing so fast, and the smoke was so thick, that it was difficult to map the size, U.S. Forest Service Incident Commander Norm Walker said.
"This is extremely old, dry fuel," Walker said at an afternoon news conference.

The fire, which was 20 percent contained, appeared to be the fiercest of several burning in the West, including two in New Mexico, where thick smoke covered several communities and set a blanket of haze over Santa Fe on Saturday. Crews fighting the two uncontained wildfires focused Sunday on building protection lines around them amid anticipation that a forecast of storms could bring moisture to help reduce the intensity of the fires.

The fire raging in Southern California had crews fighting the fire on four fronts, with the flames spreading quickest northward into unoccupied land, authorities said. But populated areas about 50 miles north of downtown LA remained in danger, with more than 2,800 people and 700 homes under evacuation orders in the communities of Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth, sheriff's Lt. David Coleman said.
They wouldn't be allowed to return home until at least Monday and possibly Tuesday, Coleman said.

About 2,100 firefighters aided by water-dropping aircraft, some of which were making the rare move of flying through the night, were attacking the blaze.
"We're putting everything that we have into this," Walker said.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Winds were blowing 20-25 miles per hour with gusts of more than 40 mph, so fast that speakers at the news conference were difficult to hear with hard winds hitting the microphone.
"That has created havoc," LA County Deputy Chief David Richardson said through the winds. "It's had a huge impact on our operations."
At least six homes burned to the ground overnight, and 15 more were scorched by flames, LA County fire Chief Daryl L. Osby said.

Mark Wadsworth, 64, said he was confident his house in Lake Elizabeth survived. He spent Sunday parked in his truck atop a ridge, watching plumes of smoke rise from the canyons below.
"I've got nowhere to go, so I'm just waiting for them to open the roads again and let me back in," said Wadsworth. "I didn't want to go to a shelter."

The Red Cross opened evacuation centers in Palmdale and Lancaster. At Palmdale's Marie Kerr Park Recreation Center, more than 100 residents awaited word on when they could return home.
Temperatures hovered in the high 90s, but were expected to dip, with humidity rising, later Sunday.

Patty Robitaille, 61, grabbed personal photos and documents before fleeing her Lake Hughes home with her pit bull, Roxie, as flames approached late Saturday. She said her property was in the direct path of the fire.

"Driving away, you could see the town burning up," she told the Los Angeles Times. "I don't think there's going to be much left."

A huge plume of smoke could be seen from much of various parts of northern Los Angeles County, and air-quality officials warned against strenuous outdoor activity.
The blaze broke out Thursday just north of Powerhouse No. 1, a hydroelectric plant near the Los Angeles Aqueduct, forcing about 200 evacuations in the mountain community of Green Valley. Several power lines were downed by the flames.

The wilderness area is a draw for boaters, campers and hikers. Crews and residents were being warned to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and bears that could be displaced by flames.
Evacuations remained in effect for several campgrounds and two youth probation camps. Several roads were closed.

In New Mexico, the forecast for moisture was not entirely good news. The potential thunderstorms also brought the possibility of lightning that could start new fires and gusty winds that could fan the blazes.

The fire burning in New Mexico's Santa Fe National Forest 25 miles from Santa Fe had grown to more than 11 square miles by Sunday morning.
Thick smoke from the fire covered Gallinas Canyon and Las Vegas, N.M.
The fire near the communities of Pecos and Tres Lagunas had prompted the evacuations of about 140 homes, most of them summer residences.
Crews also cleared out campgrounds and closed trailheads in the area as they worked to prevent the fire from moving toward the capital city's atershed and more populated areas.

Southern Calipornia Wildfire Triples
Jun 3, 2013
Powerhouse Wildfire in Southern California tripled in size Sunday.
It is only 20% contained.  Lake Hughes is under mandatory evacuation, Elisabeth Lake is under a voluntary evacuation order.
Fire just north of Powerhouse, a hydroelectric plant near the Los Angeles Aqueduct, forcing about 200 evacuations in the mountain community of Green Valley.
Evacuations remained in effect for the Cottonwood campground and two youth probation camps along Lake Hughes Canyon Road.

Fire north of LA forces nearly 3,000 from homes
6/3/13  LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) — Nearly 3,000 people from some 700 homes were under evacuation orders Monday as a wildfire north of Los Angeles kept growing, feeding on old, dry brush, some of which hadn't burned in decades.
The blaze had burned about 35 square miles in the mountains and canyons of the Angeles National Forest, destroying at least six homes and damaging 15 more.

The fire, which was 20 percent contained, was fueled in part by chaparral that was "extremely old and dry" and hadn't burned since 1929, U.S. Forest Service Incident Commander Norm Walker said Sunday at a news conference.

It was spreading fastest into unoccupied land, but populated areas about 50 miles north of downtown LA remained in danger, with more than 2,800 people and 700 homes under evacuation orders that were expected to last until late Monday or Tuesday in the communities of Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth, sheriff's Lt. David Coleman said.

It appeared to be the fiercest of several burning in the West, including two in New Mexico, where thick smoke covered several communities and set a blanket of haze over Santa Fe. Crews fighting the two uncontained wildfires focused Sunday on building protection lines around them, hoping predicted storms could bring moisture to help reduce the intensity of the fires.

In Southern California, about 2,100 firefighters were taking on the wildfire, aided by water-dropping aircraft, including three helicopters expected to stay aloft through the night.
"We're putting everything that we have into this," Walker said.

A window frames the view of a home damaged by wildfires in Lake Hughes, Calif., early Sunday, June 2, 2013. Erratic wind fanned a blaze in the Angeles National Forest to nearly 41 square miles early Sunday, after fast-moving flames triggered the evacuation of nearly 1,000 homes in Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth, officials said. |AP Photo | Reed Saxon|

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Three firefighters had minor injuries, but no one else was hurt.

Winds of about 25 mph and gusting as high as 40 mph had created "havoc" for firefighters for much of Sunday, LA County Deputy Chief David Richardson said.
Propelled by the strong winds, the fire jumped an aqueduct into the west of Lancaster, officials said.

Nightfall brought some weather relief, and firefighters hope they could take advantage of it.
"It is cooling off," Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy said. "The winds have died down, at least compared to earlier."
In a report early Monday, fire officials said that the blaze was holding and no new evacuations or road closures were immediately foreseen.
California wildfire destroys 24 homes, consumes 30,000 acres

By Alex Dobuzinskis and Zelie Pollon

LOS ANGELES/SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A wildfire burning in mountains north of Los Angeles has destroyed 24 homes including a number of summer cabins, fire officials said on Thursday after it was safe enough to send in an on-foot assessment team.

The damage wrought by the Powerhouse Fire comes as officials in California have warned of a particularly early and intense start of the fire season. Two major wildfires are also burning in New Mexico, including one that was threatening Native American sites.

A previous estimate had put the number of residences damaged or destroyed by the Powerhouse Fire at 15. The blaze, which has consumed just over 30,000 acres, has also destroyed another 29 outbuildings.

Firefighters have gained the upper hand on the blaze, which began a week ago in northwest Los Angeles County and has burned through brush lands in mountainous terrain near the towns of Lancaster and Palmdale. The blaze was 78 percent contained, with full containment predicted for Monday.

"Definitely we've turned the corner, there's no question about that," U.S. Forest Service safety officer Ron Ashdale said.

But the weather in the coming days is expected to get warmer, which could complicate firefighting efforts.

The forecasted high temperature for Thursday was 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius), and winds could shift on Friday and Saturday and threaten to spread flames toward a containment line that is nevertheless expected to hold, Ashdale said.

Some of the 24 homes destroyed in the Powerhouse Fire are believed to be primary residences, especially around the Lake Hughes area that was touched by flames, but others are summer cabins in the Angeles National Forest, fire officials said.

The cause of the blaze, which broke out near a remote powerhouse and has cost $16 million to fight, is still under investigation.


In New Mexico, where two major wildfires were burning largely unchecked, firefighters took advantage of a drop in temperatures and a rise in humidity to gain ground against the blazes, one of which was threatening holy and historic sites.

The Thompson Ridge Fire west of Santa Fe stood at 12,171 acres on Thursday and was only 5 percent contained after firefighters worked to protect historic ranch buildings and Redondo Peak which is sacred to Native Americans.

The blaze in the Valles Caldera National Preserve threatened a number of sites with artifacts of human settlements, such as obsidian tools, said Ana Steffen, cultural resources coordinator for the preserve. Some remains in the preserve are over 10,000 years old, she said.

Firefighters considered the coming few days a chance to create containment lines before a new wave of heat and low humidity was predicted for early next week.

"The next couple of days will be good because early next week we're going to be tested. So if we can get this done, we have a much better chance of holding this," said Peter D'Aquanni, a spokesman for the team handling the blaze.

New Mexico's second major blaze, the Tres Lagunas Blaze east of Santa Fe, stood at 9,578 acres and was 24 percent contained, officials said.

Authorities ordered the evacuation of 144 homes at the fire's start, but they allowed residents of about a dozen homes to return on Wednesday.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Bernard Orr)
More Homes Evacuated in Western Wildfires

Firefighters attacked dozens of blazes in Western states where hot and windy conditions persisted Thursday, including two blazes that forced hundreds of people out of their homes in Colorado.

Air and ground crews resumed work against a 500-acre fire in the Rocky Mountain foothills about 30 miles southwest of Denver that impacted more than 100 people. The Lime Gulch Fire, possibly triggered by lightning, threatened no structures in Pike National Forest.

In southern Colorado, a 300-acre fire in Huerfano County forced at least 175 people to stay at a Red Cross shelter at a high school.

In Arizona, firefighters braced for more hot, windy weather Thursday as they battled a wildfire in Prescott National Forest that scorched nearly 12 square miles. The blaze erupted Tuesday afternoon and led to the evacuation of 460 homes.

To the north, smoke from another fire that broke out Wednesday was visible from Grand Canyon National Park. No structures were immediately threatened.

A blaze in southern New Mexico's Gila National Forest has grown to 57 square miles just as firefighters finish setting up protections around a nearby historic mining town.

In Northern California, hundreds of residents returned home as crews aided by lower temperatures and higher humidity extended their lines around a wildfire near a main route into Yosemite National Park. Only about 50 homes on two mountain roads remained under evacuation orders, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. The fire, sparked Sunday by a campfire that wasn't fully put out, led to the evacuation of about 800 homes at its peak.

In Southern California, a nearly 6-square-mile fire in the San Bernardino National Forest was 83 percent contained.

The fire near Denver was burning in steep, heavily forested mountain terrain, south of where last year's Lower North Fork Fire damaged and destroyed 23 homes and killed three people. That fire was triggered by a prescribed burn that escaped containment lines.

Some residents said they were ready to leave in minutes, having practiced fire evacuations after the Lower North Fork Fire.

Karalyn Pytel was at home vacuuming when her husband called, saying he had received an alert on his cellphone telling the family to leave. She quickly grabbed her 6-year-old daughter's favorite blanket, a laptop computer, a jewelry box and some family heirlooms before fleeing.

"I grabbed a laundry basket and just threw stuff in it. I don't even know what clothes they are," Pytel said as she arrived at an evacuation center.

Firefighters were aided by two U.S. Air Force Reserve C-130s.

The planes also were used at a 22-square-mile wildfire near Colorado Springs that has destroyed 509 homes and killed two people since it started June 11.

In southwestern Colorado, two backcountry fires started by lightning last week and fueled by large swaths of beetle-killed trees swelled in Wednesday's heat and wind.

The largest, the West Fork Fire, nearly tripled in size to nearly 19 square miles, while the 700-acre Windy Pass Fire grew to within a quarter-mile of buildings on the south side of the Wolf Creek Ski Area. Firefighters have largely let the fires burn but were working to keep them away from the ski resort now that the area burning has fewer dead trees and some open spaces, fire spokeswoman Anne Jeffery said Thursday.

Some summer cabins are threatened by the fire, but no communities were in immediate danger.

In Colorado's northwest corner, an 850-acre wildfire in Rio Blanco County forced Encana Corp. to shut down oil and gas facilities, the Bureau of Land Management said. Firefighters protecting buildings at an Encana station spotted embers up to a half-mile away from the blaze.
'Double-barrel' conditions of wind, dry air feed wildfires' fury

What may already be the worst fire season for parts of the West is only going to get worse.

Thursday morning, The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for thousands of square miles in five states as windy, dry conditions persist to fuel fires in the area.

A red-flag warning is posted when a combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures create extreme fire growth potential.

“The conditions are not friendly for fighting fires,” said Tom Moore, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel. “It makes it easy for fires to happen because we’ve got that double-barrel problem of dry air and wind.”

Thursday is projected to be especially dangerous. As the day dawned, there were already 19 “large incident” fires burning throughout the four-corner state region of Utah-Colorado-Arizona-New Mexico, according to NBC Meteorologist Bill Karins. Winds are forecast to pick up to 40 mph later in the afternoon.

This fire season is especially bad for areas like New Mexico and Colorado as well as parts of California. Moore said drought-like conditions and a minimal chance of rain in the area make it just right for more dangerous fires.

“This problem is going to get a whole lot worse,” he said. “The conditions are so prone to having fires start and then all you need is windy conditions to have them spread. I think we’re going to be dealing with this all summer long in this region.”

Blazes have already destroyed thousands of acres, forced hundreds of families to evacuate their homes and hospitalized some people for heat-related illnesses.

And that’s not the only bad news for the area. Moore said he thinks the fire season, which usually lasts the summer months of June to September, has gotten longer over the past few years.

“We’re fair game for these fires now from April to November,” he said.

Southern California could be facing worst fire season in 100 years

Monday, June 17, 2013

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. (KABC) --  Fire officials on Monday warned that Southern California could be facing its worst fire season in 100 years. That dire warning came as another blaze broke out, this time in Riverside County.

Late Monday afternoon, the Grand Fire erupted near Wildomar, where a hillside went up in flames and a deputy's squad car was doused with Phos-Chek.

"I looked out the door of my shop here and saw the fire coming over and told her to call 911 and say we got the hill on fire," said Wildomar resident Mark Laeger.

Already this spring, firefighters have had to burn the midnight oil, battling the Powerhouse Fire near Santa Clarita, the Springs Fire near Camarillo and the Hathaway Fire northeast of Banning, which was still burning as of Monday night.

The Hathaway Fire has charred close to 4,000 acres, injured nine people and full containment isn't expected for another week.

"Fire conditions in Southern California are at levels we have not seen in many, many years," said Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott.

Fire officials say the fires are expected to burn much more intensely at this point in the year than they have in the past. At a press conference Monday in Diamond Bar, fire chiefs from more than a dozen fire departments said they're preparing for a potentially historic fire season.

"We're going to have a very volatile fire season, probably the most volatile fire season that's projected based on our 100-year history in Southern California," said Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Budget cuts and a lack of resources could make the fire fights more difficult, but fire officials say the public can help by providing brush clearance around their homes and just by doing their part. They said 94 percent of fires are started by people, which means 94 percent of fires can be prevented.
'Aggressive,' 'devastating' fire burning thousands of acres in Southern California

A "very aggressive" fire in Southern California's San Jacinto Mountains grew to 8,000 acres Tuesday, damaging several structures, forcing mandatory evacuations and spreading heavy smoke into the Coachella Valley, officials said.

"There's a disaster area in there. It's devastating," Scott Visyak, a spokesman for the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told NBC Los Angeles on Tuesday.

"There's several homes lost. There's several homes standing. The fire had just gone through there very aggressively," Visyak said.

The so-called Mountain Fire, which ignited at 1:43 p.m. (4:43 p.m. ET) Monday, was burning Tuesday afternoon near the Idyllwild Pine Cove, according to the joint state and federal incident report. Visyak said it was headed over Palm Canyon and into Andreas Canyon.

About 650 firefighters were battling the fire, which nearly doubled in size, from 4,700 acres to 8,000 acres, in just a few hours overnight. The incident report said it was only 10 percent contained.

With an "extreme" potential for further growth, the fire was being upgraded to a Type 1 incident management response — the biggest there is — the report noted.

The flames are spreading through chaparral, or shrubland, and timber that are highly flammable because of the dry winter, officials said. Ninety-plus-degree temperatures, humidity in the single digits and shifting winds approaching 15 mph have also presented fire crews with a challenging task.

"With the heavy fuels we've got and the temperatures we're experiencing, it's making it a very aggressive, hot fire right now," Visyak said.

At least one home was destroyed, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Tuesday, along with another building that was under renovation. Clouds of smoke hung over the mountains as airplanes and helicopters made water drops, it reported.
Mandatory evacuations were in effect for about 50 homes in the area, as well as the Living Free Animal Sanctuary and the Zen Mountain Center.

July 2013
6,000 flee peaceful California resort as wildfires approach

Wildfires char nearly 20,000 acres of California

Wildfires hit California as US bakes in heatwave

Mountain fire in Southern California in the San Bernardino National Forest.
July 18, 2013
 About 210 children evacuated from two campsites in the path of a rapidly growing wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California.
The Mountain fire ignited Monday afternoon and grew by 50% overnight.
The mountain fire prompted evacuation notices for Idyllwild, Fern Valley, Apple Canyon and the Andreas Canyon Club area south of Palm Springs.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.,0,4815278.story,0,863476.story

Helicopters attack Mountain fire; some evacuation orders lifted
July 19, 2013
Water-dropping helicopters were making assaults on the massive Mountain Fire Thursday night as evacuation orders were lifted for two areas no longer threatened by flames.
Residents were being allowed to return to the Apple Canyon and Bonita Vista areas, and Highway 74 was open to traffic, the U.S. Forest Service said.
The blaze, which has been raging out of control in the San Jacinto Mountains, still continued to threaten the resort town of Idyllwild, which was under a mandatory evacuation order, fire officials said.
Crews were hoping to take advantage of cooler nighttime temperatures and rising relative humidity in their efforts to contain the wildfire burning in rugged, steep terrain.
They were being aided by U.S. Forest Service contract helicopters that were making repeated water drops Thursday night, said agency spokesman Sheldon Keafer.,0,3357114.story
Fire crews make 'great progress' in battle to save California town

IDYLLWILD, Calif. -- Longtime resident Dave Jones was back in his Southern California home a day after evacuating, but remained ready to leave as a huge wildfire fire threatened to top a ridge near his mostly empty mountain town.

The walls were bare in the home where he's lived for the past 40 years after the 64-year-old and his wife stowed the valuable mementos, along with more practical items, like clothes, jewelry, medicines and the computer hard drive before heading to their son's home in nearby Hemet.

"The fire came right up by the ridge yesterday afternoon, gave everybody a pretty good scare that it was going to come down the hill," Jones said Thursday night.

The last time he evacuated for a fire it was 1997, and he stayed away for four days. Jones said he considered the order he got Wednesday "a light evacuation" and wasn't afraid because he knows of a controlled dirt road to use as "an escape route" if fire does come down that ridge.

Forest Service spokesman John Miller said firefighters had made "great progress" by late Thursday night given the tough conditions and terrain, and evacuations were called off for a small handful of the thousands under orders to leave.

But the 35-square-mile blaze remained just 15 percent contained and had been growing in an atypical manner. The majority of the 3,300 firefighters are on the western flank of the fire, near Idyllwild.

"Usually it cools down at night and we get more humidity. That hasn't happened," said Tina Rose, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "It's been burning like it's daytime for 72 hours in a row."

Temperatures were expected to dip into the 60s overnight before creeping up into the 80s on Friday.

"What we're concerned about is what you see right here," said U.S Forest Service Fire Chief Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, pointing to a hazy sky. "When you get a column that puts out this much smoke, embers get into the column and can drop anywhere."

She added the column was expected to go right over Idyllwild for the next two days. While authorities said only 5 percent of the town rebuffed evacuating, they cautioned they might not be able to help those who remain if conditions worsen.

"We cannot guarantee your safety if the fire runs into town," Idyllwild Fire Protection District Chief Patrick Reitz said.

The 22,800-acre fire spread in three directions through thick brush and trees. Roughly 4,000 houses, condos, cabins and several hotels in Idyllwild and surrounding communities were threatened. Fire crews struggled to carve fire lines around the town to block the towering flames.

Authorities said the fire was "human-caused" but they wouldn't say whether it was accidental or intentional. There have been no reports of any injuries.

Idyllwild, the small town on the other side of the mountains that tower over the desert community of Palm Springs is known for the arts and is surrounded by national forest popular with hikers and flanked by two large rocks that are favorites for climbers. Popular campgrounds, hiking trails and a 30-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs 2,650 miles from the Mexican border to Canada were closed.

"That's going right down the middle of the fire," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Norma Bailey said of the trail.

The evacuation center was alive with music Thursday as four teenage French horn players from Idyllwild Arts Academy rehearsed a piece by Austrian composer Anton Bruckner in a courtyard behind the cafeteria. They said they found it relaxing to play in an uncertain moment. On the other side of the building in the shade, a group of counselors picked at guitars and a ukulele.

"There were a lot of people practicing last night. I took out my piccolo and played a little bit," said Sophia Yurdin, 16, of Los Angeles.
Evacuations continue from S. Calif. wildfire

IDYLLWILD, Calif. (AP) -- A Southern California wildfire that destroyed seven homes and cabins in the mountains above Palm Springs grew overnight and continued to threaten the town of Idyllwild Friday as crews kept an eye on an advancing thunderstorm.

The fire in the San Jacinto Mountains grew to around 24,818 acres — roughly 39 square miles — and was 15 percent contained, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Kate Kramer said.

About 6,000 people remained evacuated for a third day as the fire spread in three directions amid the rugged, timbered ridges. Some communities on the eastern edge of the fire were reopened to residents, but about 4,100 homes remained under potential threat.

The fire was only about two miles from Idyllwild on its western flank and the same from Palm Springs, down below on the desert floor. However, it was burning relatively slowly with the most active area south of town.

An enormous plume of smoke could be seen from Palm Springs.

Popular campgrounds, hiking trails and a 30-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from the Mexican border to Canada, remained closed.

Some 3,300 firefighters, aided by nearly 30 aircraft, battled the fire, which stretched from 4,000 feet to 9,000 feet along the mountains. For that reason, crews could be working in temperatures ranging from a comfortable 75 to a scorching 110 degrees.

Kramer said a storm front was heading toward the region, bringing a 20 percent chance of rain but also 15-24 mph winds with gusts to 40 mph that could push the flames in erratic ways.

"That's the double-edged sword of having a front move in," she said. "It can cause some very unpredictable weather."

The fire, which began Monday afternoon, has burned six homes and mobile homes, one cabin, and more than a dozen other buildings. One home also was damaged.

Idyllwild resident Dave Jones was back in his Southern California home on Thursday, a day after evacuating, but remained ready to leave.

The walls were bare in the home where he's lived for the past 40 years after the 64-year-old and his wife stowed the valuable mementos, along with more practical items, like clothes, jewelry, medicines and the computer hard drive before heading to their son's home in nearby Hemet.

"The fire came right up by the ridge yesterday afternoon, gave everybody a pretty good scare that it was going to come down the hill," Jones said Thursday night.

The last time he evacuated for a fire it was 1997, and he stayed away for four days. Jones said he considered the order he got Wednesday "a light evacuation" and wasn't afraid because he knows of a controlled dirt road to use as "an escape route" if fire does come down that ridge.

Authorities said the fire was "human-caused" but they wouldn't say whether it was accidental or intentional. There have been no reports of any injuries.

The fire was about 12 miles from the site of the 2006 Esperanza wildfire that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters and destroyed 34 homes and burned an area that hadn't burned in many years.

More evacuate from path of Southern California wildfire
July 20, 2013
 700 more homes were advised to retreat to safety on Friday as crews fighting a wildfire in the mountains above Palm Springs grew increasingly concerned about the possibility of unstable weather and erratic winds that could last through the weekend.
The voluntary departures by people in Pine Cove, on the fire's western flank, came in addition to mandatory evacuations involving 6,000 others who spent a third day away from home as the fire spread in three directions.
The blaze in the San Jacinto Mountains has expanded to roughly 42 square miles and was 15 percent contained, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Kate Kramer said.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the area Friday night, freeing up more state funding and other resources to help with the protracted firefight that has already cost $8.6 million.
Some communities on the eastern edge of the fire were reopened to residents, but about 5,600 homes remained under potential threat.
The fire was less than two miles from Idyllwild on its western flank. It was a similar distance from Palm Springs below on the desert floor, where an enormous plume of smoke could be seen, but the blaze was showing little threat of moving toward the much larger city.


Residents return after rain helps crews contain California's Mountain Fire blaze
7/22/13  Heavy rainfall helped crews contain the massive Mountain Fire in Southern California, officials said early Monday, bringing joy and relief to residents able to return to their homes.
Firefighters have the 42-square-mile blaze 68 percent contained, according to a statement from officials at 9.15 p.m. local time Sunday (12.15 a.m. Monday ET).

Storms dropped an inch and a half of rain on the blaze Sunday, officials announced, allowing thousands of residents to return to the resort town of Idyllwild and nearby communities southwest of Palm Springs.

“Words really can’t express how happy we are to be back home,” Idyllwild resident Jessica Priefer told the Press-Enterprise newspaper, which said one local coffee house threw an impromptu late-evening party to express gratitude to fire crews and other volunteers.

However, the mixture of rain and ash from the fire was not a pleasant one for many. “It looks and smells like a giant ashtray,” Palm Springs resident Domenique Wulfekuhle told the Desert Sun.

The weather was expected to remain in firefighters' favor with rain and thunderstorms forecast throughout Monday, reported, though thunderstorms can be a double-edge sword, as lightning and flash floods were possible.
"Although conditions were hazardous and some crews were taken off the line due to the severe weather, firefighters continue to fight the fire aggressively where possible," U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Miller told

Video: Wildfire still raging in California
Video: Wildfire burns near Lake Elsinore, California

Firefighters issued mandatory evacuation notices for communities near Lake Elsinore, after the Falls Fire destroyed 1,500 acres. Around 100 homes in Decker Canyon and Rancho Capistrano were evacuated while residents of Lakeland village were later allowed to return home. Around 265 firefighters, five helicopters and five planes were engaged in the fight against the blaze, which started on August 5.
'Head to toe' burn victim among three hurt as California wildfire spreads

A raging wildfire in Southern California left a person with horrific burns "from head to toe" and two firefighters hurt as the blaze destroyed at least 15 homes and spread across 6,000 acres, officials said Thursday.

Aerial video from showed multiple homes erupt into flames and black plumes of smoke in the hills between Banning and Idylwild in Riverside County.

About 1,500 people were told to flee several mountain communities in the area.

“The civilian -- very, very tragically -- was very badly burned,” Cal Fire Riverside Chief John R. Hawkins told

The civilian suffered burns "from head to toe" and was at a hospital burn center, he said.

One of the firefighters had suffered from smoke inhalation and had been transported to the hospital, Cal Fire's Daniel Berlant said.

The fire was reported at approximately 2:05 p.m. Tuesday (5:05 p.m. ET) and by 11 p.m. PT Wednesday (2 a.m. ET Thursday) had burned 6,000 acres, Cal Fire said in a statement.

It said that evacuation orders had been issued for the communities of Vista Grande, Mt. Edna, Poppet Flats, Twin Pines, Silent Valley and parts of Cabazon.

A map produced by Cal Fire showed several other wildfires in the state: the Falls Fire in Riverside County east of Los Angeles; the Aspen Fire in the Sierra National Forest north of Aspen Spring; the Power Fire in Stanislaus National Forest near Pinecrest; the Salmon River Complex Fire near Jackass Gulch; and the Butler Fire in Klamath National Forest near Somes Bar.

The Silver Fire cut off exit routes for some people, and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department told those residents to shelter in place. Highway 243 was closed, the Fire Department said.

Berlant said that more than 100 homes were in danger, but noted it was early to make such estimates.

Winds of 30-40 mph were fueling the fire, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson said.

The number of fire personnel tackling the blaze doubled from more than 450 firefighters to about 1,000, the Cal Fire statement said.

A total of 84 fire engines, six air tankers, and 13 helicopters were also involved in the operation

"The biggest challenge for us is the people who are in their homes, and when we try to evacuate them, them moving on the same streets as the fire engines," Cal Fire Capt. Lucas Spelman told

The American Red Cross opened three evacuation centers for residents who had to flee their homes. said the area is about 20 miles north-northwest of the origin of the Mountain Fire, which burned 43 square miles last month and forced thousands to flee. Fire officials had said that a dry winter contributed to that fire.

Ashes from the fire were reported to be falling in Palm Springs -- 25 miles away.

"The smoke is so thick here in Palm springs, the ashes are coming down like snow, and the air quality is really bad!!" Michelle Renee Robinson-Scruggs wrote on NBC4's Facebook page.

The West has already seen a series of destructive wildfires in 2013. Colorado experienced the most destructive wildfire in its history in June, which killed two and destroyed about 500 structures. As that fire burned, 11 other fires plagued the state and more threatened other parts of the Southwest.

The following month, 19 heavily trained Hotshot firefighters were killed in the Yarnell Hill wildfire in Arizona.
Wildfire spreads, threatening hundreds of homes

Southern California wildfire growing amid hot, dry conditions, threatening hundreds of homes


CABAZON, Calif. (AP) -- Susana Medrano stood in her front yard, mesmerized by the orange and red flames creeping along the wind-swept mountain ridge behind her home, and struggled to leave.

Her children sat in the back of her pickup after grabbing the new clothes and backpacks they had bought for the school year, which starts next week. Now they were wondering whether they will have a place to live.

"It's hard because we don't know what's going to happen," said the mother of four, her eyes tearing up as she prepared to stay with family down the road in San Bernardino. "I've never seen the fire so close to my home

The rapidly spreading wildfire raging through a rugged Southern California mountain range Thursday had already destroyed 26 homes and was threatening more than 500 other residences, forcing some 1,800 people to flee. One man suffered serious burns and five firefighters were injured, including two from heat exhaustion.

More than 1,400 firefighters and nine helicopters battled the flames as they pushed eastward along the San Jacinto Mountains, a desert range 90 miles east of Los Angeles.

The wind-whipped blaze was getting bigger and heading toward the desert town of Cabazon, said Cal Fire Riverside Chief John R. Hawkins.

The fire was estimated at nearly 22 square miles Thursday with 20 percent containment, but the direction could change in the area, which is known as a wind tunnel. Evacuation orders were issued in five towns, including parts of Cabazon.

"The conditions at the front right now are very dangerous," Hawkins said.

Authorities still have not determined what caused the fire

Medrano was among scores of residents in Cabazon who were evacuated in the pre-dawn hours Thursday and returned after sunrise to pack up more belongings and watch the flickering line of fire snaking along the brown, scrubby mountains.

In the nearby town of Banning, Lili Arroyo, 83, left with only her pet cockatiel, Tootsie, in its cage and a bag of important papers from her home, which was rebuilt after being destroyed in a 2006 wildfire.

"There were embers and ash coming down all over the sky," Arroyo said. "The smoke was really thick. I was starting not to be able to breathe."

Along with Cabazon, the evacuation orders covered two camping areas and the rural communities of Poppet Flats, Twin Pines, Edna Valley and Vista Grande.

Most of Southern California's severe wildfires are associated with Santa Ana winds caused by high pressure over the West that sends a clockwise flow of air rushing down into the region.

This week's fire, however, was being fanned by a counter-clockwise flow around a low pressure area over northwest California

It was the second major wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains this summer. A blaze that erupted in mid-July spread over 43 square miles on peaks above Palm Springs, burned seven homes and forced 6,000 people out of Idyllwild and neighboring towns.

The latest fire also burned in the footprint of the notorious Esperanza Fire, a 2006, wind-driven inferno that overran a U.S. Forest Service engine crew. All five crew members died. A man was convicted of setting the fire and sentenced to death.

After touring the area, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who lives in Riverside County, said 165,000 acres have burned in California this year and climate change is setting conditions for more disastrous blazes, while budget cuts are limiting resources to fight them.

"Unless we take action, things are only going to get worse," she said.

A different blaze, a 60-acre wildfire, forced evacuations of about 75 homes Thursday near Wrightwood, a community in the San Gabriel Mountains popular with skiers located about 40 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Thousands flee as 18,000-acre California wildfire spreads

Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes as a wind-whipped wildfire, which has swept across 18,000 acres, continued to spread toward Palm Springs Friday.

Some 2,000 residents fled parts of Cabazon and the surrounding area south of Banning on Wednesday and Thursday as the blaze, dubbed the “Silver Fire,” spread east through the San Jacinto mountains, a desert range 90 miles east of Los Angeles.

By Friday evening, it had burned 18,000 acres and destroyed 26 homes and one commercial structure, according to the state agency Cal Fire. It was 40 percent contained, Cal Fire said.

Dave Matthews told NBC News that he had lived in his house for 10 years, and it burned down in 10 minutes while firefighters watched helplessly.

"The house across from me or right next door to me, that was fully engulfed," he said. "There was nothing they could do when they got there."

Despite the danger, some were refusing to leave. Longtime homeowner Donald Tousseau was one of the few who refused to evacuate from the community of Snow Creek on Friday.

"I've been through this before," Tousseau told "I don't like to be a hazard or a handicap to the firemen, because I know they worry about you. But if it came to the time, and it's really dangerous, I'd get out."

Authorities put yellow caution tape on the mailboxes of those who stayed behind, reported.

Susana Medrana teared up as she prepared to evacuate Thursday with her children, who sat her pickup after grabbing the new clothes and backpacks they had bought for the school year, The Associated Press reported. "It's hard because we don't know what's going to happen," Medrano said.

Earlier, one resident was left with head-to-toe burns and five firefighters were injured in the fire.

The victim “very, very tragically was very badly burned” Cal Fire Riverside Chief John R. Hawkins told NBCLos Thursday.

More than 1,600 firefighters and eight helicopters continued to fight the flames as the blaze spread east towards Palm Springs.

Cal Fire said evacuation orders had been issued for the communities of Black Mountain, Vista Grande, Mount Edna, Poppet Flats, Twin Pines and Silent Valley, along with Snow Creek village and parts of Cabazon.

A map produced by Cal Fire showed several other wildfires in the state — including in Riverside County, in the Sierra National Forest, in the Stanislaus National Forest and in the Klamath National Forest. A  new fire erupted Thursday afternoon near Wrightwood, northwest of San Bernardino, and grew to 100 acres on Friday, forcing the mandatory evacuation of 75 homes.

About 100,000 acres have burned across California so far this year, roughly double the number at the same time last year.

Michael Palmer, lead meteorologist at, said the dry conditions are the big factor. "They are in a drought," he said.

Temperatures in the area were in the high 80s and low 90s on Friday, and high winds complicated the situation for firefighters.

The West has already suffered a series of destructive wildfires in 2013. Colorado experienced the most destructive wildfire in its history in June, which killed two and destroyed about 500 structures. As that fire burned, 11 other fires plagued the state and more threatened other parts of the Southwest.

The following month, 19 heavily trained Hotshot firefighters were killed in the Yarnell Hill wildfire in Arizona.

Despite the danger, some were refusing to leave. Longtime homeowner Donald Tousseau was one of the few who refused to evacuate from the community of Snow Creek on Friday.

"I've been through this before," Tousseau told "I don't like to be a hazard or a handicap to the firemen, because I know they worry about you. But if it came to the time, and it's really dangerous, I'd get out."

Authorities put yellow caution tape on the mailboxes of those who stayed behind, reported.

Susana Medrana teared up as she prepared to evacuate Thursday with her children, who sat her pickup after grabbing the new clothes and backpacks they had bought for the school year, The Associated Press reported. "It's hard because we don't know what's going to happen," Medrano said.

Remember Lot's wife...
Calif. faces longer, tough wildfire season

BANNING, Calif. (AP) — California truly is the Golden State this summer — golden brown — and that has fire officials worried heading into the peak of the wildfire season.

It's still weeks before the fire-fanning Santa Ana winds usually arrive and already it's been a brutal fire season, with nearly twice as many acres burned statewide from a year ago, including 19,000 scorched this week in a blaze still raging in the mountains 90 miles east of Los Angeles. That fire, burning nearly 30 square miles, was almost half contained Saturday morning.

So far this year, California fire officials have battled 4,300 wildfires, a stark increase from the yearly average of nearly 3,000 they faced from 2008 to 2012, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Until last week, those fires had already burned more than 71,000 acres, about 111 square miles. The totals were up from 40,000, about 63 square miles, during the same period last year.

The annual average for charred land in the last five years was 113,000 acres, roughly 177 square miles, he said.

"We have seen a significant increase in our fire activity and much earlier than normal," said Berlant, adding that fire season began in mid-April, about a month ahead of schedule after an especially dry winter. "We're not even yet into the time period where we see the largest number of damaging fires."

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who lives in Riverside County, said more than 165,000 acres or 258 square miles have burned in California this year, and climate change is setting conditions for more disastrous blazes, while budget cuts are limiting resources to fight them. Boxer's data comes from both California officials and federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service.

This year, state fire officials have called up more firefighters and reserve engines on days with hot, dry conditions, Berlant said.

And while state officials encouraged residents to rid their properties of dry brush before fire season starts, he said authorities are now urging the public not to use lawnmowers or weed eaters during the heat of the day because a spark off the metal blades can trigger a blaze.

On Friday, firefighters launched a fleet of seven retardant-dropping airplanes against Southern California's latest destructive wildfire, which has destroyed 26 homes and threatened more than 500 others in the San Jacinto Mountains.

The so-called Silver Fire injured six firefighters and seriously burned one civilian and had grown to nearly 30 square miles early Saturday.

At its peak, it forced the evacuation of 1,800 people, including 800 campers, but orders were lifted for many areas Friday and only a few hundred evacuees remained.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency for the area Friday, freeing up additional funds and resources for the firefight and recovery.

In the Twin Pines neighborhood outside Banning, Andy Schrader said he couldn't get out in time. The wildfire crept up suddenly and blew over his house, burning his motor home and singeing his hair as he sprayed water from a hose to try to keep the house wet.

"I could feel my face burning," the 74-year-old carpenter said. "And I thought I was going to die."

Most of Southern California's severe wildfires are associated with Santa Ana winds, caused by high pressure over the West that sends a clockwise flow of air rushing down into the region.

This week's fire, however, was being fanned by a counter-clockwise flow around a low pressure area over northwest California. The National Weather Service said conditions could change in the second half of next week, with weaker winds in the mountains and deserts.

Wildfire experts say the traditional fire season has grown longer in California as rainfall has been lower than usual over the last two years and tapered off sooner.

Los Angeles, for example, received only 5.85 inches of rain from July 2012 through June 2013, compared with 8.71 inches a year before and a 30-year average of 14.93 inches, said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Tom Scott, a natural resources specialist who teaches at University of California campuses in Riverside and Berkeley, said plants can have a harder time staying hydrated under such conditions.

"The whole system is like a bank account — it's being drawn down," he said.

Richard A. Minnich, a professor of earth sciences at University of California, Riverside, said much of Southern California is in pretty good shape because older vegetation burned off during a spate of wildfires over the past decade, but there are spots at serious risk because of the prevalence of old-growth chaparral.

"Wherever there is very old chaparral, we've got a tremendous threat," he said.

Fundraising efforts are underway to rebuild the Al Bahr Shriners Camp in the Laguna Mountains after it was destroyed by a fire last month. It will take more than $1 million to replace more than 100 buildings, including the camp's 87-year-old lodge, dining hall and kitchen, were destroyed in the blaze.

"Everyone lost a lot," former Shriner potentate Donald Wierman told U-T San Diego. "If not material things they've lost memories. Generations have been going to that place."
Homeowners, tourists flee Sun Valley resort region as massive wildfire approaches

More than one thousand residences near the Idaho mountain resort community of Sun Valley were under mandatory evacuation orders Friday as a wind-driven wildfire ripped through sage and pine trees, threatening lives and homes.

At least 1,600 homes were included in the evacuation order, according to according to NBC affiliate KTVB.

Some 700 state and federal firefighters were deployed to battle the monstrous blaze as it moved east toward the affluent region, which is a second home to celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Hanks, according to The Associated Press.

Private insurers have dispatched their own crews to provide structural protection for homes valued in the tens of millions of dollars, said Bronwyn Nickel, a spokeswoman for Blaine County, which is east of the capital of Boise, according to the AP.

“There are private engines that insurance companies have sent in,” Nickel said. “They’re on site, they’re working with our local firefighters and law enforcement.”

A massive DC-10 tanker, capable of hauling 12,000 gallons of flame retardant, was among the fleet of aircraft making drops on the Beaver Creek Fire, which has burned more than 64,000, according to fire officials.

Meanwhile, flying in separate aircraft, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell took an aerial tour of the giant fire, according to the AP.

Residents in the towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley, where the temperature Friday afternoon hit 93 degrees, were advised to ready their belongings in case they need to leave abruptly.

Fire managers “are just adding an extra layer of caution to the plan that they started last night,” said Rudy Evenson, a spokesman for the federal team spearheading the fight against the fire, according to the AP. “We have a forecast for 30-mph winds at the ridge tops.”

Southbound traffic on U.S. Highway 75 was clogged Friday, as many homeowners and vacationers attempted to flee the smoky blaze.

“They just don’t know which way the fire is going to go, so they’ve got to get everybody ready,” Hailey resident Jane McCann told the AP. “The smoke is unbearable. Today in Hailey, you couldn’t see the mountains from Main Street.”

Fire officials said strong winds, low humidity and tinder-dry vegetation gave rise to conditions that stirred up the huge blaze, according to KTVB. It was ignited by lightning Aug. 7, according to officials.

The National Weather Service warned early Friday that gusting winds and “very low” humidity in parts of Idaho - already dealing with eight other large fires - meant there was a risk of that more wildfires could break out.

It said fires could turn into “wind driven events with explosive fire growth on new and ongoing fires.” Containment of the fire had dropped to 6 percent by Friday night.

Warnings that new wildfires could break out were also in place for parts of Utah, Montana and Hawaii.

To the west of the Beaver Creek Fire, the Elk Complex Fire in the southern Idaho mountains has burned more than 125,000 acres and destroyed 38 homes and 43 other structures.

Evacuation orders have cleared out the town of Pine, a popular vacation area where most of the destroyed homes were located. The fire was listed as 50 percent contained, but the Forest Service said in a notice Thursday said full containment was not expected until Oct. 1.

Fire officials also continued to struggle with the Rockport 5 wildfire near Park City, Utah, which has destroyed eight homes and spans nearly 2,000 acres.

In all, 34 major fires are burning across 11 states, fueled largely by severe drought conditions.

California Marine base evacuated for fires
Oct 6, 2013
Fierce winds stoked several small fires across Southern California, forcing 260 residents and hospital patients to evacuate at a military base, causing a key freeway junction to shut down and damaging cars and homes.
A fire at the U.S. Marine Corps Camp Pendleton forced 230 residents to evacuate from housing.
Naval Hospital was not threatened by the fire, but a power outage prompted officials to evacuate about 30 patients.
The blaze charred about 1,000 acres, sending smoke across northern San Diego County.
The powerful Santa Anas kicked up late Friday and a National Weather Service red flag warning of extreme fire danger.

800 firefighters battle late fall fire in Big Sur

BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — More than 800 firefighters are battling an unusual late fall wildfire that has destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to flee the forested mountains of the scenic Big Sur region overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The slow-moving fire in Los Padres National Forest near state Highway 1 had consumed 769 acres, or a little over a square mile, by Tuesday night and was 20 percent contained.

It has destroyed 22 buildings, Los Padres National Forest spokesman Lynn Olson said. About 14 of those structures were homes, she said.

No injuries have been reported.

Mark Nunez, the incident commander of the team fighting the fire, said 829 firefighters had deployed to the area, and thus far, weather has been working in their favor. But Wednesday would be another matter, depending on which way the wind blows.

Olson said a weather front was approaching. "It could possibly help us. It could possibly hurt us," she said.

Big Sur — miles of rugged coast, cliffs and wilderness — is a popular tourist destination about 150 miles south of San Francisco with high-end resorts and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

The fire was burning a little more than a mile from Ventana Inn and Spa, a favorite spot among celebrities where former Facebook president and Napster co-founder Sean Parker got married in June.

In the summer of 2008, a lightning-sparked wildfire forced the evacuation of Big Sur and blackened 250 square miles before it was contained. That blaze burned more than a dozen homes.

California's fire season traditionally peaks by mid-fall, but the drought of the last several years has given the state essentially year-round danger.

The Big Sur fire began Sunday, fueled by dry vegetation and fanned by winds.

Among the homes destroyed was that of Big Sur Fire Chief Martha Karstens. She tearfully told reporters Monday night that the loss of her home of 23 years had not yet sunk in.

"I'm just trying to function as a chief," she said.

Other residents anxiously tried to get information about their homes.

Jim Walters, who was up the coast in Carmel when the blaze started, told the Monterey Herald he had gone to entrance to his street, local restaurants and the fire command station but had no luck learning anything about his home.

"I don't know where else to go," he said.

The Red Cross set up an overnight shelter for displaced people, said Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Department issued an evacuation watch Tuesday afternoon for the area west of Highway 1 between Fernwood Resort and River Inn, but no more mandatory evacuations were ordered. Highway 1 remains open, Olson said.

A wildfire so late in the year is unusual in Northern California, where the fire season is generally at its peak over the summer, said Larry Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey.

Smith said the Big Sur area has averaged nearly 45 inches of rain yearly between 1981 and 2010. But the area has received about 7 inches of rain this year, about 16 percent of its normal amount.

"That's very, very dry," Smith said.

Still, officials said they were hopeful they could contain the blaze this week as temperatures were expected to be in the 50s on Wednesday and Thursday.

"We're cautiously optimistic that we're going to pin this thing down within the next couple of days," Madsen said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.
2 homes burn in Southern California wildfire

Police say a wildfire that burned two homes in Southern California was started by three people throwing paper in a campfire.

GLENDORA, Calif.  —  Nearly 2,000 residents were evacuated and two homes burned in a wildfire that started early Thursday when three people tossed paper into a campfire in the dangerously dry and windy foothills of Southern California's San Gabriel Mountains, authorities said.

Embers from the fire fanned by gusty Santa Ana winds quickly spread into neighborhoods below where residents were awakened in the pre-dawn darkness and ordered to leave.

The three suspects, all men in their 20s, were arrested on charges of recklessly starting the fire that spread smoke across the Los Angeles basin and cast an eerie cloud all the way to the coast.

One resident suffered minor burns in the neighborhood abutting Angeles National Forest, just north of the San Gabriel Valley community of Glendora, according to Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby. Hundreds of homes were saved because of firefighters' preparations, he said.

At least 2 ½ square miles of dry brush were charred in the wilderness area about 25 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Ash rained down on the city, said Jonathan Lambert, 31, general manager of Classic Coffee.

"We're underneath a giant cloud of smoke," he said. "It's throwing quite the eerie shadow over a lot of Glendora."

Police said the three suspects were detained near Colby Trail, where the fire was believed to have started. At least one was homeless, Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab said. Police identified the suspects as Robert Aguirre, 21, of Los Angeles; Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, of Irwindale; and Clifford Eugene Henry, Jr., 22, of Glendora.

A resident spotted "a couple of suspicious fellows moving down from the hill into the wash" and called police, Mayor Joseph A. Santoro said. Glendora officers picked up two of them, and a Forest Service officer detained the third, he said.

The notorious Santa Anas, linked to the spread of Southern California's worst wildfires, picked up at daybreak. The extremely dry Santa Anas blow downslope and can push fires out of the mountains and into communities below. The area, which has been historically dry, has been buffeted by the winds which have raised temperatures into the 80s. The Santa Anas typically begin in the fall and last through winter into spring. A wet winter reduces fire risk, but the whole state is experiencing historically dry conditions.

TV news helicopters spotted embers igniting palm trees in residential yards as firefighters with hoses beat back flames lapping at the edges of homes. Homes are nestled in canyons and among rugged ridges that made access difficult.

Glendora police said officers went door to door ordering residents of the city of 50,000 to leave. Citrus College, located in the heart of Glendora, canceled classes for the day.

Several schools were closed. The Glendora Unified School District closed Goddard Middle School, which was being used as a fire department command post. District spokeswoman Michelle Hunter said 900 students attend the school, which is near the fire and within the evacuation area.

Between 1,700 and 2,000 residents were evacuated and the order included 880 homes in Glendora and the neighboring foothill city of Azusa. Many residents, some wearing masks, used garden hoses to wet the brush around their houses, even as firefighters ordered them to leave.

"Don't waste any more time with the water. Time to go," a firefighter ordered.

More than 700 firefighters were on the scene. The Los Angeles County Fire Department deployed seven engines and three helicopters to the fire, which was reported around 5:50 a.m. and grew rapidly. Officials added to the firefighting aircraft with two water-dropping Super Scooper planes.

A man was photographed on the roof of a home talking on a cellphone as he surveyed the smoke-choked sky.

The smoke spread across metropolitan Los Angeles to the coast and was visible from space in Weather Service satellite photos. The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory and urged residents to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities in areas directly impacted by the smoke.

Jennifer Riedel, 43, anxiously watched as the orange-hued plume descended on her neighborhood in Azusa.

"I woke up from the rattling windows from the helicopters overhead, and I heard the police over the P.A., but I couldn't hear what they were saying," Riedel said. "I'm hearing from neighbors that we're evacuating, but I'm waiting for a knock on the door."

Riedel said her husband left for work early and she was getting her children, ages 5 and 7, ready to evacuate.

"They're a little nervous, but I'm keeping calm for them," she said. "I've been loading the car up with important papers and getting the kids dressed. We'll just take some essentials and get going if we have to."

The last catastrophic fire in the San Gabriel Mountains broke out in 2009 and burned for months. The flames blackened 250 square miles, killed two firefighters and destroyed 209 structures, including 89 homes.

About 70 miles to the northwest, a fire has burned at least one acre of tinder-dry chaparral near Pyramid Lake, said Los Angeles County Fire inspector Tony Akins. As many as 115 firefighters battled the flames and water-dropping helicopters were diverted from the fire in Glendora. The blaze started just after 11 a.m. east of Interstate 5 and involved a mobile home, which didn't appear occupied, Akins said. The cause was under investigation.

California is in a historically dry era and winter has brought no relief.

Red flag warnings for critical fire weather conditions were posted from Santa Barbara County south through Los Angeles to the U.S.-Mexico border, along the spine of the Sierra Nevada, and in areas east and north of San Francisco Bay.

Fires that struck windy areas of the state earlier in the week were quickly quashed by large deployments of firefighters, aircraft and other equipment before the flames could be stoked by gusts into major conflagrations.

Large parts of Southern California below mountain passes, canyons and foothills have been buffeted all week by the region's notorious Santa Ana winds.

Spawned by surface high pressure over the interior of the West, the Santa Anas form as the cold air flows toward Southern California, then speeds up and warms as it descends in a rush toward the coast. Some of the most extreme gusts reported by the National Weather Service topped 70 mph.

These offshore winds also raise temperatures to summerlike levels. Many areas have enjoyed temperatures well into the 80s

California is also under the influence of a persistent upper-level ridge of high pressure anchored off its north coast that has also kept the region generally warm, dry and clear.
Calif. firefighters make progress, say conditions 'pretty good' around homes

Firefighters made progress early Friday against a wildfire — apparently sparked when paper was tossed into a campfire — that tore through two and a half square miles of brush and forced thousands of people from their homes in the foothills outside Los Angeles.

Fire officials told reporters that the fire was 30 percent contained, an improvement from completely uncontained the day before. People were allowed back into their homes in the city of Glendora but not in the neighboring city of Azusa.

Crews expressed confidence and said they were focused on putting out “hot spots” near homes and buildings.

“Things are progressing nicely. We’re not really having a lot of issues today,” said Mike Wakoski, an incident commander. “It’s looking pretty good around the structures, and we’re kind of turning our head to the north to contain the fire itself today.”

The fire has destroyed five homes and damaged 17 structures, including homes, garages and other buildings, and it has cast an eerie haze over Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean. Battling the blaze on Friday were almost 1,200 firefighters, 150 engines, nine helicopters and four air tankers.

Wind still posed a threat: The National Weather Service said red-flag warnings, signifying extreme fire danger, would stay in effect because of low humidity and the possibility that Santa Ana winds would blow through the foothills and canyons.

Police said the fire apparently started before dawn Thursday when three men tossed papers into a campfire in the Angeles National Forest, northeast of Los Angeles, and a breeze kicked up.

Three men were being held: Clifford Eugene Henry Jr., 22, of Glendora; Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, of Irwindale; and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, of Los Angeles. Bail was set at $20,000 for each, police said.

By Thursday afternoon, firefighters had stopped the fire’s rapid advance and the risk to neighboring communities. More than 3,700 people had been ordered to evacuate; by late Thursday night, that figure was down to about 2,000.

Officials now fear California is headed into a replay of the big drought that lasted from the late 1980s to early 1990s. And it’s not the only state suffering: Federal agriculture officials have designated parts of 10 other parched states disaster zones due to dry weather.

In just the past two weeks, the extreme drought in California jumped from 27 percent of the state to 62 percent, said meteorologist Chris Dolce of The Weather Channel, citing the U.S. Drought Monitor. That is by far the highest percentage since the drought monitor began in 2000.

The good news is that there is still no exceptional drought reported – the worst category.
LA-area fire wanes; dangerous conditions remain

GLENDORA, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters said Sunday they continued their steady progress in surrounding a wildfire near Los Angeles that destroyed several homes.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department said the fire was 78 percent contained, with full containment expected Wednesday.

Meanwhile, hundreds of residents who fled the blaze in suburbs about 25 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles returned home Saturday evening as red-flag warnings of extremely dangerous fire conditions expired. Officials cautioned that bone-dry winter conditions remain a threat for the region.

Crews focused on securing fire lines around the roughly 3-square-mile blaze and looked ahead to rehabilitating the burn area to prevent erosion and possible mudslides, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Robert Brady.

"It's starting to look fairly good," Brady said. "We're still in very dry conditions, so I would remind people to be careful out there."

The fire erupted early Thursday in the Angeles National Forest when Santa Ana winds hit a campfire that authorities said was recklessly set by three men. Gusts quickly spread flames from the San Gabriel Mountains into Glendora and Azusa, where some 3,700 people had to evacuate at the fire's peak.

Five homes were destroyed and 17 other houses, garages and other structures were damaged, according to early assessments.

The state is in a period of extended dry weather compounded in Southern California by repeated periods of the regional Santa Anas, dry and powerful winds that blow from the interior toward the coast, pushing back the normal flow of moist ocean air and raising temperatures to summerlike levels.

The dry conditions statewide led Gov. Jerry Brown to formally declare a drought Friday in order to seek a range of federal assistance.

California wildfire destroyed 40 homes near Nevada
February 8, 2015
-  California wind-driven wildfire destroyed 40 homes at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada.  The fire started near a highway.  CIGARET?

Evacuations in effect in California fire that burned homes

CROWLEY LAKE, Calif. (AP) — Ira Hanson milled around an evacuation center near tiny Swall Meadows on Sunday afternoon, not quite sure what to do after learning that the dream home he and his late wife had built 30 years earlier was damaged in a wildfire that consumed 40 homes and buildings.

Sheriff's deputies had banged on the door and urged him to get out less than 48 hours earlier, and he'd fled the house with little more than his medications and a pillow. Officials later told him that fire crews had to knock down one of the home's walls in an effort to save another house next door, but he had yet to see the damage.

"It's unbelievable," said Hanson, 79. "It's like having a nightmare and you're going to wake up any minute and it won't be true."

Fire crews increased containment of the wind-driven wildfire, but they said Sunday that they still didn't know when residents evacuated from Swall Meadows and nearby Paradise would be able to return home.

Utility workers were busy tending to the charred power poles along the roads in the two towns, and forestry crews sawed at fallen trees that blocked a main thoroughfare. Nearby, two gutted, gray trucks rested on a driveway that led to a pile of rubble.

The fallen power poles and smoldering hot spots near propane tanks created hazards for the roughly 250 residents who have been evacuated, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. Liz Brown. Crews were assessing trees in the two communities on Sunday to ensure they wouldn't come down.

"We would love to shoot for today, but I don't know," Brown said of the prospect of lifting evacuation orders. "Once it's open, it's open. We don't have the resources to escort people in and escort them out."

The fire started Friday afternoon near a highway on the border of Inyo and Mono counties. It blew up when 50 to 75 mph winds whipped through wooded areas near the two communities for about three hours, turning the flames into a "freight train," Brown said.

Swall Meadows was hit hard by the blaze — 39 homes were destroyed there while one burned in the community of Paradise, Brown said.

Firefighters made progress after rain moved in, and they have since contained 65 percent of the 11-square-mile blaze.

But Brown said the rain hasn't been enough to completely put out the fire. A three-year drought across California has created extremely dry timber brush that fueled the flames and pushed them all the way up the Sierra slopes to the snow line around 8,000 feet, she said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Meanwhile, officials running the evacuation center in Crowley Lake said they received an outpouring of support. A white board was filled with names and phone numbers of people who had volunteered their homes for the displaced.

So many had volunteered that nobody stayed in the shelter overnight.

"This is one of the most resilient communities you're ever going to find," said Mono County Administrator Jim Leddy.

California wildfire near Los Angeles
April 19, 2015
-  Prado Dam fire in Chino Hills threatened 300 homes.
The cause of the fire is not known.  Mandatory evacuations were ordered after a wildfire quickly spread Saturday night near Los Angeles.

The Highway Fire started near Corona in Riverside County.
It is fueled by thick brush in a riverbed that hasn't burnt in years. The fire is creating its own weather.  The fire is heading toward a populated area.

USA western wildfires

California wildfires
June 25, 2015
-  The Lake fire, Big Bear fire and Calgrove Fire.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes as a wildfire spreads north of Los Angeles.  Strong winds spread the flames close to homes in Santa Clarita.
Hundreds of county firefighters were on the scene.
Wildfire in San Bernardino Mountains grows to nearly 21,000 acres after winds shift
A shift in winds caused Big Bear wildfire in the San Bernardino mountains to spread.
Western wildfires: California fire grows, forces evacuations

Wildfires are charging through several dry Western states, including a blaze in California that showed new life after burning for a week and forced some communities to flee their homes. A look at the latest hotspots and what crews are doing to control them:


A huge forest fire that has been burning through rugged terrain in the San Bernardino Mountains for more than a week forced evacuations as it stretched northeast into the desert.

The blaze about 90 miles east of Los Angeles showed new life as winds shifted. The tiny Mojave communities of Burns Canyon and Rimrock were ordered to leave their homes Thursday. Evacuations were voluntary in nearby Pioneertown.

A change in wind direction also forced several hundred campers to evacuate Wednesday.

Crews relied on retardant-dropping aircraft to battle the hard-to-reach fire, which began June 17 in mountain wilderness. Officials say they had to temporarily ground air tankers for safety reasons after a hobbyist's drone flew over the fire, but flights resumed Thursday.

It has charred more than 36 square miles of old-growth timber and brush and was partially contained.

Meanwhile, a wildfire north of Los Angeles that drove about 1,000 people from their homes and briefly shut down part of a major freeway was reduced to mostly embers.

People could return about nine hours after the blaze broke out Wednesday in Santa Clarita. At its height, some 500 homes had to be evacuated as flames moved close. Damage was limited to one garage.



A wildfire has grown to more than 26 square miles in inaccessible terrain south of Lake Tahoe and has led to some voluntary evacuations Thursday, officials said.

No buildings have been damaged, but the small mountain town of Markleeville is under a voluntary evacuation warning, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Several campgrounds were evacuated earlier in the week, and two highways have been closed.

About 900 firefighters are battling the blaze ignited by lightning Friday about 20 miles west of the Nevada border. The fire is partially contained.

Meanwhile, crews have contained a 533-acre fire about 50 miles east of San Francisco near Antioch that had led some 30 homes to be evacuated Wednesday night, news station KNTV reported. No structures were damaged.



Wildfires in Alaska are spreading, but there have been no new evacuations from threatened communities.

Twenty-one new fires were logged in the state on Wednesday, according to the latest figures available. That brings the total to nearly 300 fires burning almost 945 square miles, with much of the activity in Alaska's dry and hot interior. Some places are so smoky that flights have been grounded, even for fire crews.

The latest numbers show a growth of more than 300 square miles from the official tally of the day before.

Fire information spokesman Tim Mowry said that's not surprising, given the number and sizes of fires in the state.

Mowry said there were days of growth larger than that during a record wildfire year in 2004, when nearly 10,300 square miles burned.

Fire managers are prioritizing where to send fire crews stretched thin as older fires wind down.

Earlier this week, residents in threatened communities and rural neighborhoods fled during voluntary evacuations.



A wildfire scorching a remote part of southwestern Oregon has grown to more than 8 square miles, but hundreds of firefighters have worked to get it more than halfway contained.

Incident commander Doug Johnson said heat, lower humidity, gusty winds and possible thunderstorms are expected this week, which will test the containment lines. He says firefighters will remain vigilant.

The lightning-sparked blaze started June 11 and is burning in the Rogue-River Siskiyou National Forest.

Firefighter dies after battling California wildfires
August 1, 2015
-  A firefighter died battling California wildfires.  David Ruhl of Rapid City, South Dakota died while responding to a fire in Alturas, California.  Ruhl was found Friday morning.  He was on temporary assignment as an Asst Officer since June 14.
The Forest Service is investigating the line-of-duty death.
The Big Valley fire started Thursday and grew to more than 800 acres.
They only need a little wind  to burn at an explosive rate.

A fast-spreading wildfire north of San Francisco is threatening 450 structures.
650+ residents have been evacuated from their homes.
One blaze is east of Napa Valley.

California wildfire Day 5
August 3, 2015
-  California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency across California.
Lake County wildfire raging through northern California doubled in size Sunday.  Its only 5%  contained.  21 fires across the drought-ridden state.
Cal Fire said the Lake County blaze threatens 6,300 buildings and forced the closure of 2 state highways.  Thousands of lightning strikes contributed to the fires.

California wildfires
August 4, 2015
-  Thousands evacuated as wildfires burned dozens of homes across northern California.
Rocky Fire had torn across Lake County, north of San Francisco, growing erratic and destructive.

California wildfire jumps containment line
August 5, 2015
-  A Northern California wildfire jumped a highway containment line. Its rapid growth caught firefighters off guard and shocked residents.  There was smoke 300 feet in the air.

California fires, residents return

California fires
August 12, 2015
-  A northern California wildfire has more than doubled in size since Monday despite cooler temperatures and higher humidity.  The Jerusalem Valley fire has burned 19 square miles.  1,000 homes have been evacuated near the California and Arizona border.

California wildfire
Sept 12, 2015
-  Hundreds evacuated in Northern California as wildfire threatened.
San Andreas evacuated, 60 miles east of Sacramento.

California wildfire
Sept 13, 2015
-  California wildfire threatens giant Sequoia grove.

Sept 14, 2015 -  Northern California Valley Fire kills a person, destroys 400 homes and businesses.
California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Lake and Napa counties.

Thousands flee California wildfire as homes go up in flames

Some fires posted in Calf news

California fires
Sept 16, 2015
-  California Valley fire 30% contained.
Butte fire 40% contained.  The northern California wildfire has grown to 104 square miles, with nearly 600 homes destroyed.  Valley fire among the most destructive in state history and spans 3 counties.
Two dozen fires are raging in Oregon, California and Washington state.
Wildfires have ravaged parts of Alaska, Idaho, Montana in recent months.
10 states have had their largest fires on record.  Other details on link

California wildfires
Sept 17, 2015
-  Crews searched the burned-out remains of homes in Northern California for people who are missing and feared dead.  2 bodies were found inside burned-out homes in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Feds to blame for wildfires
Sept 17, 2015 -  Federal land management to blame for out-of-control fires.
85% of Nevada; 70% of Alaska and roughly half of Arizona, California and Utah are federal lands.

Wildfires plaguing drought-stricken California and federal funding to fight them has dried up, leading critics to say the real problem lies in Washington DC.  More private ownership of land would divert the responsibility and cost from taxpayers.

The federal government is a poor steward of its land holdings.  The Forest Service is ill-equipped to manage land to prevent fires or protect property once blazes break out.
California wildfire burns 1,100 acres, closes 101 highway

(Reuters) - A wildfire in Southern California burned about 1,100 acres of land, forced the closure of parts of a major highway and led to evacuations on Saturday, fire officials said.

More than 500 firefighters were at the scene or en route to battle the blaze in the Solimar Beach area of Ventura County, and parts of the 101 highway had been closed, county fire department spokeswoman Heather Sumagaysay said.

Reopening the highway, a major roadway in the region, is a top priority, she said.

Fire officials had earlier reported that parts of the Pacific Coast highway also were closed, but Sumagaysay said she was not aware of that. Ventura is about 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

No injuries have been reported, but the fire has not been contained, Sumagaysay said. No structures have been damaged by the fire, but nearby Union Pacific rail lines are closed, she said.

The fire started at around 11 pm local time on Friday, and strong winds and dry vegetation caused it to grow rapidly, she said.

At around 2 am local time on Saturday in a video posted on Facebook, Venture County Fire Department Captain Steve Kaufman said the fire was near the beach, "bumping up against the roadway. We're getting a bunch of embers in Solimar east."

The Solimar Beach community is under a mandatory evacuation order, while a voluntary one has been issued for the nearby Faria Beach community, fire officials said.

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