USA :Firefighters Gaining Upper Hand in U.S. Fires
Source: Reuters, 25 August 2001
By Bruce Olson PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – More than 20,000 firefighters gained ground against forest fires in eight U.S. states on Saturday, but officials cautioned that tinder-dry conditions could result in more trouble. Nearly 2.9 million acres have been burned across the West so far this year, slightly ahead of the 10-year average with two dry months remaining. “It’s not over by a long way,” Murray Shoemaker, a spokesman at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said on Saturday. “Fire activity has slowed down over the last few days because of some cooler, wetter weather, especially in Washington, but things are getting hotter and drier today and the fuel is out there, just waiting for the spark,” he added. Active fires covered about 225,000 acres, down by more than half from the 500,000 acres of blazes just a week ago. There were 29 major fires burning, seven each in Washington state and Montana, five in California, three each in Idaho and Wyoming, two in Oregon and one each in Nevada and Utah. The biggest fire remained at the Virginia Lake complex in eastern Washington where 2,600 firefighters were trying to contain the remnants of the five separate blazes that have burned more than 82,000 acres and destroyed nine homes. “ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN” Spokeswoman Virginia Fox said the weather helped allow firefighters to contain three of the five major fires, but added, “It’s getting dry again and the wind is starting to kick up. Anything can happen under those conditions.” The Virginia Lake fire was raging on the eastern slope of the Cascade mountains, three miles south of Omak, which is about 125 miles northeast of Seattle. About 550 U.S. Army troops from Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, Washington, were sent in to help fight the fire. It is the first time the military has been used in this year’s fires. Two new fires were reported on Saturday, the North Sawmill fire, 35 miles northwest of Jordan, Montana, and the Bohnstead Draw fire, which erupted in strong winds seven miles from Edgerton, Wyoming. The Hoover fire in Yosemite National Park continued to burn, consuming nearly 5,500 acres about 10 miles southeast of Yosemite village. Two other fires blazing in the Yosemite area, about 140 miles east of San Francisco, have consumed almost 15,000 acres and destroyed at least four homes. Nearly 7.5 million acres were scorched last year, the worst forest fire season in 50 years.Firefighters Gaining Upper Hand in U.S.