Tag Archives: wildfires

Wildfires Rage in California

California_Wildfire

Wildfires Rage in California

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Wildfires continue to rage in Santa Cruz County, California, where thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate their homes. The wildfire has now grown to more than three square miles and is not contained.

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Thousands flee western Canadian wildfires

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Thousands flee western Canadian wildfires

Emergency crews battled rugged terrain on Sunday to contain two large wildfires that have forced thousands of residents of a western Canadian community to flee their homes.

Wind and dry conditions were fueling the large blazes that broke out Saturday in the hills along Okanagan Lake west of the city of Kelowna, British Columbia where housing subdivisions have encroached on the surrounding forest in recent years.

“The winds are definitely adding to the fire activity,” said Elise Riedlinger, a spokeswoman for the British Columbia Forest Service, which has not estimated when the fires can be brought under control.

No injuries or deaths were reported, but as many as nine buildings are feared to have been destroyed. Crews were able to protect a large sawmill complex that had been threatened, according to local media.

About 17,000 people have been told to either leave their homes or be ready to evacuate on a moment’s notice if asked to do so by emergency officials.

The Glenrosa fire, which was the first to erupt on Saturday, had grown to 864.5 acres (350 hectares), while the Rose Valley Dam fire, which broke out a few kilometers to the north had grown to 370.5 acres (150 hectares), Riedlinger said.

A third fire northwest of Kelowna was also burning out of control, but did not threaten any populated areas. Kelowna, in south-central British Columbia, is about a 400 km drive east of Vancouver.

Police said the cause of fires was under investigation, but the provincial fire service said they did not believe them to be related.

Helicopters and aircraft dropped water and fire retardant on flames to back up the more than 200 firefighters working on the ground.

Adding fuel to the fire were trees that have died in recent years because of an infestation of mountain pine beetles.

Emergency officials were dealing with the situation using plans developed after the Kelowna area was struck by massive wildfires that destroyed more than 200 homes in 2003.


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California wildfire declared arson, homicide

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California wildfire declared arson, homicide

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LOS ANGELES  – A huge wildfire burning in the mountains above Los Angeles, now the largest ever in the county, was started by arson and will be investigated as a homicide, authorities said on Thursday.

The so-called Station Fire has killed two firefighters, destroyed 64 homes and torched an area the size of Chicago in the nine days it has roared across the rugged San Gabriel Mountains overlooking Los Angeles.

“After a forensic examination at the point of origin, arson investigators have concluded that the Station Fire was the result of an act of arson,” U.S. Forest Service Commander Rita Wears said.

The deaths of Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Ted Hall and firefighter Arnaldo Quinones, who were killed when their vehicle plunged 800 feet (244 metres) from a road, made the case a homicide, Wears said.

Authorities did not offer details about how the fire was started but an area near the city of La Canada-Flintridge, north of Los Angeles, has been cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape since Wednesday.

It was not clear if any suspects had been identified.

As of Thursday evening, the Station Fire had blackened 145,000 acres (59,000 hectares), or about 226 square miles (585 sq km), making it the largest wildfire recorded in Los Angeles county. It could ultimately become one of the top 10 in state history, in terms of size.

Authorities estimated containment of the massive conflagration at 38 percent, up from 28 percent a day earlier, according to fire commander Mike Dietrich, who said his force of more than 4,700 firefighters was making “great progress.”

By Wednesday night, the all-clear had been given for the last of 6,400 evacuated households to return home.

But a flare-up in one canyon early on Thursday led officials to order a small cluster of homes evacuated, and crews were concentrating their attack on the southeastern flank of the blaze to prevent flames from spreading.

One town on the fire’s southeastern fringe is Pasadena, known for its annual New Year’s Day Rose Bowl college football game and Tournament of Roses Parade. Fire commanders planned to brief residents in a meeting Thursday night.

Fire commanders said Mount Wilson, an observatory and telecommunications and broadcasting hub, would be spared.

The Station Fire has cost $21 million so far to fight, making it the most expensive of several California wildfires in recent weeks that already have depleted the cash-strapped state’s emergency firefighting budget by more than half.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has insisted the state has plenty of resources at its disposal for such emergencies.

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