Home Posts As A Heat Wave Rages Across The West, Fires Rage In Several States.
As A Heat Wave Rages Across The West, Fires Rage In Several States.
Climate Change

As A Heat Wave Rages Across The West, Fires Rage In Several States.


Firefighters struggled to contain a Northern California wildfire that continued to grow Sunday and forced the closure of a major highway, one of several large blazes burning across the United States West amid another heat wave that shattered records and stressed power grids.

Two firefighters were killed Saturday in Arizona when the plane they were in crashed during a survey of a small wildfire in rural Mohave County. The plane was performing reconnaissance over the Cedar Basin Fire near Wikieup, a tiny community of about 100 people, when it crashed around noon.

The two firefighters were the only people on board, according to officials, and the crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

After a major wildfire in southern Oregon knocked out interstate power lines, preventing up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity from flowing into the state, officials in California asked all residents to reduce their power consumption as soon as possible.

The California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state's power grid, said Saturday that the Bootleg Fire knocked out three transmission lines, putting a strain on power supplies as temperatures in the area soared.

The National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, tweeted Sunday, “The Bootleg Fire will have the potential for extreme growth today.”

The Bootleg Fire grew to 224 square miles (580 square kilometers) in size as it raced through dense forest in Oregon's Fremont-Winema National Forest near the Klamath County town of Sprague River, pushed by strong winds.

The Beckwourth Complex Fire, a combination of two lightning-caused blazes burning 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Lake Tahoe, showed no signs of slowing its rush northeast from the Sierra Nevada forest region, despite doubling in size between Friday and Saturday.

Late Saturday, flames jumped a major highway, US 395, which was closed near the small town of Doyle in California's Lassen County, and flames threatened rural properties and forced evacuations in Nevada's Washoe County.

The fire, which was only 9% contained, had grown to 131 square miles (339 square kilometers), and temperatures in the area were expected to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) again on Sunday.

It was one of several fires threatening homes across Western states, which were expected to see triple-digit temperatures throughout the weekend as a high-pressure zone blanketed the region.

According to the National Weather Service's reading at Furnace Creek, Death Valley in southeastern California's Mojave Desert reached 128 degrees Fahrenheit (53 Celsius) on Saturday, which was actually lower than the previous day's temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 Celsius).

If confirmed, the 130-degree reading would be the hottest high recorded there since July 1913, when the Furnace Creek desert reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit (57 degrees Celsius), which was considered the highest measured temperature on Earth at the time.

The National Weather Service warned that the dangerous weather conditions could result in heat-related illnesses.

The Desert Sun reported that Palm Springs, California, set a record high temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius) on Saturday, the fourth time this year.

100-degree temperatures blanketed California's agricultural Central Valley, with Fresno reaching 111 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius), just one degree short of the all-time high for the date.

The National Weather Service reported that Las Vegas tied the all-time high temperature of 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius) late Saturday afternoon, tying the city's previous record of 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius) in June 2017.

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Because of the heat wave and wildfires affecting transmission lines throughout the region, NV Energy, Nevada's largest power provider, also urged customers to conserve electricity Saturday and Sunday evenings.

A brush fire sparked by a burning big rig in eastern San Diego County forced the evacuation of two Native American reservations in Southern California on Saturday.

Yavapai County in north-central Arizona lifted an evacuation warning for Black Canyon City, an unincorporated community 43 miles (66 kilometers) north of Phoenix, on Saturday after a fire in nearby mountains was no longer a threat.

A wildfire in southeast Washington grew to nearly 60 square miles (155 square kilometers) in size as it blackened grass and timber as it moved into the Umatilla National Forest.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little declared a wildfire emergency Friday and activated the state's National Guard to assist in fighting fires sparked by lightning storms that swept across the drought-stricken state.

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This article was contributed to by Associated Press writers Daisy Nguyen in San Francisco, Martha Bellisle in Seattle, and Paul Davenport in Phoenix.

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