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States lend support as wildfires blast through western US

admin | July 24, 2021

Out-of-state crews have headed to Montana to battle a blaze that injured five firefighters as the western US struggled with a series of fires that ravaged rural lands and destroyed homes.

Progress was being made on the nation’s largest blaze, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, but less than half of it had been contained, fire officials said.

The growth of the sprawling fire had slowed but thousands of homes remained threatened on its eastern side, authorities said.

In California, governor Gavin Newsom on Friday proclaimed a state of emergency for four northern counties because of wildfires that he said were causing “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property”. The proclamation opens the way for more state support.

Firefighters watch as a log burns near a containment line on the northwest edge of the Bootleg Fire (Nathan Howard/AP)

On Saturday, fire crews from California and Utah were coming to Montana, governor Greg Gianforte announced.

Five firefighters were injured on Thursday when swirling winds blew flames back on them as they worked on the Devil’s Creek fire burning in rough, steep terrain near the rural town of Jordan.

They remained hospitalised on Friday but Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Mark Jacobsen declined to release the extent of their injuries.

In California, the Tamarack Fire south of Lake Tahoe continued to burn through timber and chaparral and threatened communities on both sides of the California-Nevada state line.

The fire, sparked by lightning on July 4 in Alpine County, has destroyed at least 10 buildings.

Firefighters visit a petrol station while battling the Dixie Fire in the Greenville community of Plumas County, California (Noah Berger/AP)

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued on Friday in Butte County, California, as the Dixie Fire continued to grow explosively eastward, becoming the state’s largest wildfire so far this year.

In north-central Washington, firefighters battled several blazes in Okanogan County that threatened hundreds of homes. And in northern Idaho, east of Spokane, Washington, a small fire near the Silverwood Theme Park prompted evacuations on Friday evening in the surrounding area.

Although hot weather with afternoon winds posed a continued threat of spreading some blazes, weekend forecasts also called for a chance of scattered thunderstorms in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and other states.

However, forecasters said some could be dry thunderstorms that produce little rain but a lot of lightning, which can spark new blazes.

More than 80 large wildfires were burning around the country, most of them in western states, and they had burned some 1.4 million acres (2,135 square miles or more than 553,000 hectares) of land.

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