Big wildfires threaten communities across the Western US

AP News
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Posted: Aug 04, 2016 4:44 PM
Big wildfires threaten communities across the Western US

Officials say more than two dozen large wildfires are burning in the West on Thursday. Hot, windy weather and hard-to-access terrain have made conditions difficult for firefighters as the blazes destroy homes and force evacuations. Here's a look at some of the fires:

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CALIFORNIA

A stubborn wildfire north of Big Sur near California's Central Coast has grown after burning for nearly two weeks in steep, forested ridges.

It has scorched more than 79 square miles and is just partially contained. A total of 57 homes have been destroyed and another 2,000 structures are at risk.

No arrests have been made since investigators determined that an unattended campfire started the blaze July 22.

To the north, officials said Thursday that a grass fire in a popular recreational area north of San Francisco has charred more than 7 square miles in Napa, Yolo and Solano counties since igniting Tuesday.

It prompted the evacuation of an RV and tent campground off a highway.

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IDAHO

Firefighters have set up sprinkler systems on homes in a central Idaho town to stop a 78-square-mile wildfire from coming down a creek drainage that funnels into the small community.

After the wind switched direction, officials set smaller fires to eradicate fuel for the bigger flames and protect the town of Lowman about 2 miles away.

Nearly 1,500 firefighters are battling the blaze burning timber in rugged terrain. No evacuations have been ordered, but the sheriff has told residents to be alert.

The fire has destroyed a $60,000 state-operated backcountry yurt, a round, tent-like structure with a dome roof and plastic skin. Officials estimate the fire won't be contained until mid-September.

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MONTANA

Cooler weather helped firefighters in western Montana gain some ground on a blaze that has destroyed 14 homes and dozens of smaller buildings.

Officials say the 12-square-mile fire in the Bitterroot National Forest is partially contained, but they don't expect to have it fully under control until the end of the month.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity helped firefighters make progress. However, hotter and drier weather with the possibility of thunderstorms is expected beginning Friday and through the weekend.

Residents of more than 600 homes remain evacuated, with an additional 200 on alert.

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NEVADA

Fire officials say they have contained most of two northern Nevada wildfires burning in canyons and rangeland near a lakeside town once under threat.

The fires have charred more than 93 square miles of scrub brush in the Virginia Mountains, about 40 miles north of Reno. It's nearly 70 percent contained.

Farther north, firefighters have almost controlled a 10-square-mile fire in a wilderness study area near where the Burning Man counterculture festival is held. A break in windy weather helped crews.

Neither fire threatened buildings.

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WYOMING

A new wildfire blew up in northwest Wyoming, destroying some buildings and forcing evacuations in a mostly rural area.

The blaze has burned 15 square miles of federal, state and private land about 15 miles west of Cody since igniting Tuesday.

Fire officials say some structures have been lost, but they are still working to determine how many and what type. Seasonal and permanent residences, several guest ranches and working ranches have been evacuated.

Firefighters who deal with the most serious and complex fires have been mobilized to attack the fire.

In western Wyoming, firefighters are trying to gain better control of several other large wildfires.