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California declares state of emergency over wildfires

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California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency as the McKinney Wildfire has already burned more than 62 square miles (160 square kilometers) in the state.

Wildfires in California and Montana expanded dramatically overnight from Saturday to Sunday as hot, windy weather allowed fires to approach neighborhoods, prompting 100 homes to be ordered evacuated Saturday.

A fire in Idaho was also spreading, according to the Associated Press.

The McKinney Fire is taking over California’s Klamath National Forest after breaking out on Friday. It went from scorching just over a square mile (2.5 square kilometers) to cover more than 62 square miles (160 square kilometers) on Saturday in a largely rural part of the state near the Oregon border, fire officials said.

At least 12 houses burned and wild animals could be seen fleeing the flames.

Klamath National Forest spokeswoman Caroline Quintanilla told the AP that “it continues to grow with erratic winds and thunderstorms in the area, and we are in triple-digit temperatures.”

The declaration of a state of emergency allows Newsom more freedom to make decisions related to emergency response and allows him to access federal aid.

The governor’s office said in a statement that the declaration allows “out-of-state firefighting resources to help California crews fight fires.”

The Elmo Wildfire in Montana nearly tripled in area, now covering more than 11 square miles (28 square kilometers). It is only a few miles from Elmo, a small town in the northwest of the state.

About 200 miles (320 kilometers) south in Idaho, residents were ordered to evacuate after the Moose Fire burned more than 67.5 square miles (175 square kilometers) in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near the city ​​of Salmon, in the northern part of the state. Containment was 17 percent, according to AP.

US Regional Forest Service spokesman Tom Stokesberry told thenews agencythat the McKinney Fire in California was being fed by vegetation in an area that had not burned in a long time.

“It is a very dangerous fire, the geography there is steep and rugged, and this area in particular has not burned for a long time,” he explained.

He added that another, smaller fire was burning in the area, near the town of Seiad. With lightning predicted for the next few days, state resources from across California are being used to manage the fires.

The rapid increase in the size of the McKinney Fire has prompted firefighters to shift from a containment strategy to protecting homes and vital infrastructure, such as power lines and water tanks.

Fire crews also helped evacuate Siskiyou, the county that covers part of California’s border with Oregon.

Police went door-to-door in Yreka, the county seat, as well as in the town of Fort Jones, encouraging residents to leave the area and move their livestock.

Areas without cell phone service received automated calls to landlines. Evacuation of more than 100 homes was ordered. Authorities also warned people to be on the lookout as smoke closed parts of Highway 96.

The Pacific Coast Hiking Association asked hikers to head to the nearest town as 110 miles (177 kilometers) of trail between the summit of Etna and the Mt Ashland campground in southern Oregon was burned.

Firefighter and Oregon State Representative Dacia Grayber was camping with her husband, also a member of the fire service, near the California border when strong winds woke them up just after midnight.

The sky lit up as lightning tore through the clouds as they were battered by wind-blown ash, even though they were about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the fire.

Grayber toldAPthat “these were some of the worst winds I’ve ever been in, and we’re used to big fires.”

“I thought he was going to rip the tent off the roof of our truck. We get the hell out of there,” she added.

“The scary part for us was the speed of the wind,” he toldthe news agency. “It went from a fairly cool and windy night to hot and dry gale force winds. Usually that happens with a fire during the day but not at night. I hope for everyone’s sake that this calms down, but it looks like it’s going to get worse.”

Western Montana was hit by the wind-driven Elmo Fire, prompting the evacuation of people and livestock as flames burned through grass and trees, the National Interagency Fire Center announced. The center said it would take nearly a month to bring the flames under control.

The Montana Department of Transportation reported that a portion of Highway 28, between Elmo and Hot Springs, had been closed due to smoke.

Firefighters from numerous agencies, including the Confederated Salish Tribes and Kootenai Fire Division, battled the flames on Saturday. As many as 22 fire trucks were on the scene, while six helicopters unloaded from above.

More than 930 wildland firefighters and support personnel battled the Moose Fire in Idaho on Saturday, going to great lengths to protect residences, energy infrastructure and Highway 93.

Forecasts for “dry thunderstorms,” ​​meaning lightning, wind, and no rain, indicated the situation could worsen.

Firefighters also battled the flames in Maui, Hawaii, with the Maui County Emergency Management Agency reporting that roads were closed and urging residents and tourists to avoid the area near Paia Bay.

In battling another California fire that forced thousands to evacuate near Yosemite National Park in early July, fire crews made great progress: The Oak Fire was 52 percent contained as of Saturday, he said. CalFire.

On Friday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would help western communities manage the growing threat of wildfires and droughts brought on by the climate crisis. Such incidents have caused billions of dollars in damage to businesses and homes in recent years.

The legislation combines 49 bills and would increase fire crew salaries, expand projects aimed at building resilience and climate crisis mitigation in affected areas, implement protective measures for watersheds, and streamline the process for that wildfire victims receive federal aid.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, sponsored similar legislation in the upper house.


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