Western wildfires: Firefighters battle blazes in 4 states

AP News
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Posted: Jun 23, 2015 7:21 PM
Western wildfires: Firefighters battle blazes in 4 states

Wildfires are tearing through some hot, drought-stricken areas of the West. They include a massive blaze in a remote area and some smaller but dangerous fires. A look at the latest hotspots and what crews are doing to control them:

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Air tankers and helicopters helped hundreds of firefighters battle a wildfire south of Lake Tahoe that grown to more than 25 square miles.

No structures have been damaged, but the California mountain town of Markleeville remained on standby for possible evacuations Tuesday. Several campgrounds along a highway have been evacuated.

One firefighter had a heat-related injury but was treated and is recovering.

Strong erratic winds and severe drought conditions have stoked the fire that was ignited by lightning Friday. About 500 personnel battled the blaze about 20 miles west of the Nevada border.

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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Cooler weather helped crews make progress against a huge forest fire in a remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains.

The fire about 90 miles east of Los Angeles was partially contained and holding steady at about 27 square miles as firefighters attacked the flames with a fleet of water-dropping aircraft.

About 500 buildings, including old cabins, had been threatened, but none was lost. The flames forced several hundred people to leave camps and vacation homes.

Another blaze near Santa Margarita in central California burned two homes, four mobile homes and two recreational vehicles that people lived in. The fire burned less than 3 square miles, along with 10 other buildings, seven vehicles, a boat and a trailer. It was mostly contained.

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ALASKA

Intensifying wildfires in Alaska have led to evacuations in several parts of the state, including a tiny village where residents fled on boats. A firefighter on one blaze also was treated for a bear bite Monday night after encountering the animal while battling a fire.

Crews were being stretched thin as 61 new fires ignited in the state, according to new figures released early Tuesday afternoon. Much of the activity was in the hot, dry interior. Altogether, 242 fires were burning on nearly 503 square miles.

A small lightning-sparked fire grew to more than a square mile in size just outside the Yukon River village of Nulato, prompting evacuations Monday evening from the Athabascan community of 250.

The airport was too smoky for air evacuations, so villagers traveled 36 miles by boat to the village of Kaltag, lifelong resident Monica Ambrose-Fruehan said Tuesday. She spent all night going back and forth between the communities to drop off people and dogs. Some people chose to stay in Nulato.

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OREGON

Two wildfires are burning in Oregon, including one in the southwest that grew to nearly 8 square miles even as firefighters got it halfway contained.

Incident commander Doug Johnson says crews will spend Tuesday completing burnout operations, with helicopters doing bucket drops on the Rogue-River Siskiyou National Forest.

Johnson says a heat wave expected to bring triple-digit temperatures to the region will test the efforts in the coming days. Almost 500 personnel fought the blaze started by lightning June 11.

Crews also worked to contain a 175-acre wildfire south of the Succor Creek State Natural Area in eastern Oregon. Its cause has not been determined, and there's no estimate for when it might be contained.

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WASHINGTON

A wildfire burning in a remote area of Olympic National Park in Washington state has scorched more than 1 square mile.

Fire managers said Tuesday that the blaze, which is burning in a wilderness area about 12 miles from the nearest trailhead, continues to spread into high mountains and inaccessible terrain.

Fire managers who surveyed the wildfire by air Monday night mapped its size at nearly 800 acres. No property or people are currently threatened.

A federal team is being organized to respond.

Park officials say the fire was caused by a lightning strike in late May. It smoldered and wasn't detected until June 14.