Firefighters working in burning heat are struggling to contain the largest forest fire in California to date.
Firefighters are working in extreme heat in the western United States to contain the growing fires, the largest of which are burns in California is Oregon, as another heat wave curtains and power grid throughout the region.
The largest fire of the year in California – nicknamed the Beckwourth Complex – has been raging in the eastern part of the state along the Nevada state line, burning about 348 square miles (134 square miles) to date. .
State regulators have urged consumers to voluntarily “conserve as much electricity as possible” starting Monday afternoon to avoid any disruption due to the fire.
Fires of fury come when the west of the country is in the middle a second wave of extreme heat in a few weeks and the whole region will suffer from one of the worst droughts in recent history.
Experts have reported climate change as a consequence of extreme climate events like forest fires – and that make them explode before the season – and some are encouraging U.S. President Joe Biden to enact long-term policy changes to try to mitigate future outbreaks.
In Oregon, the Bootleg fire broke out at 580 square miles (224 square miles) as it ran through heavy woods in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, near the town of the Sprague River in Klamath County.
The fire disrupted the service of three transmission lines that provided up to 5,500 megawatts of electricity in neighboring California.
Conditions at the fire were so severe that 926 firefighters working the lines were forced in some cases to “disengage and move into predetermined safety zones,” managers say. No fatalities had been reported.
The flames burned along a high-voltage corridor that connected Oregon’s electricity grid with California, worrying officials in both states that electricity could be wiped out by thousands of homes and businesses.
Residents in hundreds of homes were already subject to the mandatory evacuation order and the Klamath County Sheriff’s Department said it would make arrests if necessary to keep people out of those areas.
Residents in other parts of southern Oregon were under the “Go Now” order Sunday, while even more said they were “preparing.”
Meanwhile, a wildfire in southeast Washington has grown to nearly 155 square miles (60 square miles), while Idaho Governor Brad Little has mobilized the National Guard to help fight the blazing fires. after lightning storms that swept across the drought region.
On Sunday, firefighters working at temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) were able to gain ground on the Beckwourth Complex in California, doubling the content to 20 percent.
Late on Saturday, flames engulfed U.S. Route 395, a key north-south highway that was closed near the small town of Doyle in northeast California Lassen County. Roads reopened Sunday, and officers have ordered motorists to pay attention and move to areas where the flames were still active.
“Don’t plant and take photos,” said Fire Department Chief of Staff Jake Cagle. “You have to stop our operations if you stop and watch what happens.”
A new fire broke out Sunday afternoon in the Sierra Nevada south of Yosemite National Park and the evening covered more than 15.5 square kilometers (6 square miles), causing evacuations in areas of two counties.
Containment was only 5 percent, but the highway leading to the park’s south entrance was opened Monday.