One California wildfire grows as firefighters contain another

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 11, 2015 1:17 PM

By Curtis Skinner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A wildfire burning in northern California grew rapidly Tuesday morning, in the shadow of a larger blaze that destroyed dozens of homes before firefighters were able to largely contain it.

The so-called Jerusalem Fire doubled in size overnight to scorch some 12,000 acres (4,856 hectares) north of Napa Valley wine country, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesman Steve Swindle.

The fire, burning about 100 miles (160 km) north of San Francisco, has forced 150 people to flee their homes, prompted numerous road closures in the area, and continues to menace 50 houses, Swindle said.

The blaze was burning just outside the perimeter of the 69,636-acre (28,180 hectares) Rocky Fire, California's fiercest wildfire so far this season.

That fire, which sparked late last month, has destroyed 43 homes along with more than 50 outbuildings and forced hundreds of residents across three counties to evacuate the rural ranch lands, but is now 88 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

Strong winds were expected to increase the risk of fire in Northern California for several days this week, according to Cal Fire.

The two blazes were among dozens burning across the drought-parched U.S. West.

Firefighters reported progress on Tuesday in containing a northwestern Arizona blaze that forced people out of about 1,000 homes and charred some 6,073 acres (2,457 hectares).

The lightning-caused Willow Fire in the Mohave Valley was 40 percent contained with fire activity low overnight, officials said.

A grass fire that started in the small town of Sherwood, Oregon, about 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Portland, caused much of the historic Portland and Western Railroad trestle to collapse overnight, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue said in a statement.

Though the flames were contained, firefighters were monitoring the burning train trestle for additional collapse, which could ignite another fire in the surrounding brush, the statement said.

The Wolverine Fire in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington has grown to cover 34,500 acres (13,961 hectares) after gusty winds cropped up overnight, stoking fire activity, according to the InciWeb fire information center.

A camping area and 360 people were evacuated from the year-round Lutheran retreat of Holden Village, an Interagency Coordination Center spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Additional reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland, Oregon; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Lisa Lambert)