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Monday, August 3

"Unprecedented" large Northern California wildfire doubles in size, displaces thousands; fast-moving wildfires in Washington, Oregon

AUG 3 2015, 6:35 AM ET - NBC News
California Wildfires: 12,000 Evacuated as Rocky Fire Rages, Grows
Thousands of people were ordered out of their homes early Monday after wind-whipped wildfires burned dozens of buildings across northern California.

Described as "unprecendented" by authorities, the largest blaze — which is known as the Rocky Fire — tore across the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco. It almost tripled in size to 84 square miles over the weekend. [...]

See also:
Wildfires prompt Gov. Brown to declare state of emergency in Calif.; USA TODAY, August 1, 5:21 PM. Lighting, winds, drought: "For weeks firefighters have been putting out wildfires as quickly as they spring up, but as soon as one is contained, another ignites."

In drought, Pacific Northwest cities, farms face water cuts; Associated Press, Aug 2

Southwest Oregon wildfire grows to 23 square miles, Associated Press, August 2, 3:05 PM EDT

The Seattle Times, August 2, 7:03 PM: "A lightning-caused fire in Central Washington has burned more than 24 square miles near Lake Chelan, growing thousands of acres between Saturday and Sunday."  

Northern California wildfire doubles in size, displaces thousands
By Curtis Skinner

August 3, 2015 - 12:18 AM EDT

(SAN FRANCISCO)  A wildfire raging through the foothills and canyons of northern California's coastal mountains more than doubled in size as it roared into its fifth day on Sunday, leaving two dozen homes in charred ruins and displacing thousands of residents.

The blaze, which has scorched about 54,000 acres (21,853 hectares) east of Lower Lake, a town about 110 miles (180 km) north of San Francisco, was the fiercest of 20 large fires being battled by 9,000 firefighters across the state, officials said.

A separate blaze that killed a U.S. forest ranger on Thursday near the Oregon border has also expanded, but remains a fraction of the size of the so-called Rocky Fire that erupted in Lake County on Wednesday and has proved the most destructive.

"This is a very fast-moving wildfire," said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, or CalFire.

Some 20,000 acres of scrub oak and brush ravaged by the fire over a five-hour period on Saturday night represented "unprecedented growth in that short amount of time," he added. By Sunday evening, the blaze had blackened another 7,000 acres along the rugged eastern flanks of California's Northern Coast Ranges, officials said.

After destroying 24 homes and 26 outbuildings last week, the fire continued to threaten an estimated 6,300 structures and has forced the closure of parts of two state highways, CalFire said.

More than 12,000 people have received mandatory evacuation orders or advisories, while ground crews have managed to carve containment lines around just 5 percent of the fire's perimeter in the past two days, officials said.

Around 2,700 personnel were battling the Rocky Fire alone by Sunday night, about a third of the state's total force.

CalFire Chief Ken Pimlott said "well over 20 wildfires" were roaring across the drought-parched state following thousands of lightning strikes in recent days.

"We're certainly stretching our resources," he told CNN on Sunday, adding that National Guard troops had been mobilized, along with reinforcements from other states and the U.S. Forest Service.

A Forest Service firefighter from South Dakota, David Ruhl, 38, died on Thursday in the Frog Fire raging through Modoc National Forest near California's border with Oregon.

That blaze, which was about 4 percent contained on Sunday, has devoured 3,900 acres as erratic winds pushed the flames in all directions, the Forest Service reported.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angleles; Editing by Andrew Hay and Clarence Fernandez)


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