Firefighters fight the Beckworth compound fire
Firefighters worked all night to fight the Beckwourth Complex, a merger of two fires caused by lightning. (July 17)
- Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for more than half a dozen communities near Markleeville.
- Fires burning in 13 states had set fire to more than 1,800 square miles.
- Fires in the West were fueled by intense heat waves this summer.
A roaring fire near Lake Tahoe that forced hundreds of people to flee exploded to cover 30 square miles on Sunday, one of more than 80 major fires raging throughout the heat and affected by western drought, fire officials said. .
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest authorities have issued evacuation orders for more than half a dozen communities and two campgrounds near tiny Markleeville, California, a town of fewer than 200 people about 35 miles southeast of the lake Tahoe. The Tamarack Fire, which flared up two weeks ago, forced the closure of a motorway and some minor roads.
The fires that burned Sunday in 13 states set fire to more than 1,800 square miles from Alaska to California and from Minnesota to New Mexico. Nearly 20,000 firefighters worked to keep the flames at bay.
Among other major fires, the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon consumed more than 476 square miles, an area the size of Los Angeles, and destroyed at least 67 homes. The fire, contained at 22%, forced 2,000 people to evacuate and threatened 5,000 buildings.
The Beckwourth Complex Fire in California near the Nevada border burned more than 164 square miles and was contained to 73 percent.
Northern California’s Dixie Fire roared to new life Sunday, calling for new evacuation orders in rural communities near Feather River Canyon. The fire, near the 2018 site of the deadliest U.S. fire in recent memory, was contained to 15% and covered 39 square miles.
In Nevada, more than 500 firefighters who fought the Tamarack fire faced a red flag warning, meaning hot temperatures, very low humidity, and strong winds were conspiring to increase the risk.
A fire burns near the deadliest site in the United States fire near Paradise, California
“Firefighters will continue to actively suppress the fire where they can safely,” firefighters said in an update. “The crews will focus on preserving life and property by protecting the structures and putting in containment lines where possible.”
The fire was so fierce that a bike ride called “Death Ride” couldn’t take any chances.
“We are very saddened to report that due to the rapidly growing Tamarack Fire, tomorrow’s Death Ride has been canceled,” race organizers said on their website. “Please pray for the Markleeville community and first responders from various agencies that are working to contain the fire.”
Residents, would-be cyclists and spectators were forced to flee. Paul Burgess, who drove from Los Angeles to participate in the race, said most of the cyclists he met were grateful to avoid the fire hazard.
“They just said that’s just the way it is,” Burgess said. “To some extent it’s part of climate change, it’s just part of many fuels that aren’t being burned, humidity is low, fuel humidity levels are low and… across the state, many parts of it are very similar to a powder keg “.
Kelli Pennington and her family were camped near town on Friday when they were told to leave.
“It happened so fast,” Pennington said. “We left our tents, the hammock and some food, but we took most of our things, pushed our two children into the car and left.”
Meteorologists have predicted extremely dangerous fire conditions with possible lightning strikes at least until Monday in both California and southern Oregon.
“With very dry fuels, any storm has the potential to trigger new fires,” the National Weather Service in Sacramento, California, told Twitter on Twitter.
Contributors: Elnor Aspegren, USA TODAY; The associated press.
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