Wildfires blazing; more firefighters sought

Wildfires blazing; more firefighters sought

25 July 2006

published by www.fs-world.com

With yet another new fire in California, firefighters are stretched to near limits and are seeking help from others. A fire erupted above Beverly Hills and Bel Air Estates and Los Angeles firefighters working by backyard pools and patios directed streams of water onto smoking slopes, and helicopters made drops on flames in heavy brush on the steep south flank of the eastern Santa Monica Mountains.

Officials pleaded for additional manpower to battle a 15,400-acre wildfire near the California-Mexico border, while a new fire ignited near expensive canyon homes in Los Angeles. The border blaze had burned nearly 24 square miles of brush and chaparral in the Cleveland National Forest in southern San Diego County. About 780 firefighters had contained only about 5 percent of the fire Tuesday as it burned in the largely unpopulated area. Several lightning-sparked wildfires have scorched the state in recent weeks, straining firefighting resources. Firefighters trying to contain the border wildfire were awaiting relief from firefighters and equipment tied up elsewhere.

Near Alpine, about 80 homes were evacuated in the community of Carveacre and a voluntary order was issued for about 1,500 homes in the area. Fire crews have had to work through 10 straight days of a heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring above 100 degrees through much of the state. At least five firefighters around the state have suffered heat-related illnesses in recent days, officials said. In Joshua Tree National Park where another blaze had consumed about 1.5 square miles of dense, desert vegetation temperatures reached 103 degrees Monday.

Fire supervisors asked crews to remove their helmets every hour to make sure they were still sweating. No sweat could mean a firefighter had dried up, a sign of heat exhaustion.

Farther north, nearly 750 firefighters worked to cut lines around a 12,000-acre or nearly 19-square-mile blaze on ranch land east of San Ardo in southeastern Monterey County. A lightning strike sparked the fire and erratic winds generated by thunderstorms caused it to spread. Off the coast, a lightning-sparked fire on Santa Catalina Island was 80 percent contained Tuesday at 1,094 acres, or 1.7 square miles, with full containment expected by the end of the day.

Fire crews in neighboring Arizona virtually contained a wildfire that had threatened to reach two power lines that feed electricity to the Phoenix area. By Monday afternoon, officials declared the fire 95 percent contained, with full containment expected Tuesday morning. Milder temperatures and increasing humidity were helping fire crews beat back three blazes burning in timber stands along the rugged slopes of the central Idaho mountains.

In Montana, a fire that flared near Florence threatened two dozen homes. Residents were asked to evacuate as the blaze grew to 250 acres, or just over a third of a square mile.


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