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Western wildfires: California fires crossed into Nevada


A northern California wildfire has crossed into Nevada, prompting new evacuation orders, but better weather is helping workers battling the nation’s largest fire in southern Oregon.

Gardnerville, Nev. – Northern California wildfires engulfed Nevada, prompting new evacuations, but better weather is helping workers battling the nation’s biggest fires in southern Oregon.

South of Lake Tahoe, the Tamarack fire burned more than 68 square miles (176 square kilometers) of wood and head-high chaparral in national forest land. It erupted on July 4 and was one of nearly two dozen blasts caused by lightning strikes.

More than 1,200 firefighters were battling the Alpine County fire, which has destroyed at least 10 buildings. Fire officials expect active or extreme fire behavior Thursday, with 14-mph winds and temperatures approaching 90 degrees.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for many communities and a request for voluntary evacuation was issued for parts of Douglas County, Nevada.

An evacuation center was established at a community center in Gardnerville, Nevada.

Evacuee Morgana-le-Fay Veach said she had already put most of her belongings in the box as she starts community college next week, but her parents lost their home in a 1987 fire.

“So it’s been really, really stressful for them,” she said.

Meanwhile, Oregon on Wednesday banned all campfires on state-managed land and in state campgrounds east of Interstate 5, the major highway generally considered the dividing line between the wet western half of the state and the dry eastern half. is.

The nation’s largest wildfire, Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, grew to 618 square miles (1,601 square kilometers) – more than half the size of Rhode Island.

However, officials said low winds and temperatures allowed crews to improve the lines of the fire. The fire was also approaching the area burned by the previous fire on its active south-eastern side, which is expected to reduce its spread due to the lack of fuel.

The Oregon fire, which was sparked by lightning, devastated the sparsely populated southern part of the state and was spreading up to 4 miles (6 kilometers) in a day, pushed by strong winds and severely dry weather. which had been turned into trees and underground. a tinderbox.

Firefighters have had to retreat from the flames for 10 days in a row as fireballs jump from treetop to treetop, trees burst, embers fly ahead of the fire to start new blazes and, in some cases, heat of hell makes its own weather With changing winds and dry lightning. The monstrous clouds of smoke and ash have risen up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) across the sky and are visible for more than 100 aerial miles (161 kilometers).

Nearly a third of the fires being fought by more than 2,200 people have been brought under control.

At least 2,000 homes were ordered to be evacuated at some point during the fire and an additional 5,000 were threatened. At least 70 houses and more than 100 buildings have been burnt, but no one has been reported dead.

Recent heat waves associated with extreme dry conditions and climate change have made it harder to fight wildfires. Climate change has made the West hotter and drier over the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

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