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Wildfires

Attention

Severe weather slams the USA: Snow, floods and wildfires

wildfire
© AFP
Hundreds of residents have been forced to leave their homes as strong winds fan the flames of the wildfires
The country endures the extremes of weather from record breaking snowfall to raging wildfires.

The start of May has been a strange one for the USA. It seems that nature can't decide if it's winter or summer.

Heavy rain has flooded parts of Key West in southern Florida. Two days of torrential downpours have led to flooding and in the last 24 hours, 109mm more rain fell across the island.

The rain has flooded homes and businesses and forced the closure of a number of roads.

Whilst rain is the problem in Florida, elsewhere winter is still winning. Heavy snow has smothered parts of the Plains and the Midwest.

Some of the worst weather was in the state of Minnesota, where the snow set new records.

Bizarro Earth

California blaze makes its way to ocean

California Fire
© Screenshot, WorldConflictReport @YouTube
The screenshot shows the so-called Springs fire burning in Ventura County.
A massive fire in Ventura County, Calif., that started early Thursday (May 2) has gobbled up thousands of acres of brush and is headed toward the ocean near Malibu.

The blaze erupted at about 6:30 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EDT) Thursday off the Southbound 101 freeway, threatening hundreds of homes in Newbury Park and Camarillo, the LA Times reported. The flames had consumed 10,000 acres of brush and was 10 percent contained as of early Friday morning, NBC News reported, and had reached within "seven or eight miles" of the city of Malibu.

The so-called Springs fire caused the shutdown of a 9-mile stretch of Pacific Coast Highway and the evacuation of hundreds of Ventura County residents as it crept toward the coast.

Very low humidity and balmy spring temperatures, combined with the dry brush and the blustering Santa Ana winds, created the perfect conditions for the wildfire, which is unusual for this time of year.

Bizarro Earth

California wind-fueled wildfire erupts east of Los Angeles, but worse conditions await

Firefighters were able to beat back a powerful wildfire that bore down on a dry Southern California city, limiting the damages to a single house and curbing the threat to hundreds more. But the difficult conditions that helped fuel the 4 1/2 square-mile blaze in Riverside County on Wednesday could be even worse in parts of the state Thursday.

"Today was a transition day," state fire spokesman Julie Hutchinson said. "Tomorrow is the big wind day" Winds of 20-30 mph are expected, along with nearly non-existent humidity and an abundance of wildfire fuel. "The grass, brush and trees are very volatile. They're ready to burn," Hutchinson said. "Everything is just very dry. And not just in Southern California, statewide."

Forecasters said high pressure would send strong winds through Southern California's passes and canyons and near coastal foothills Thursday.


Extinguisher

Wildfire burns outside Great Smoky Mountains

Image
© CURT HABRAKEN/AP
Firefighters set a boundary as cabins burn on Black Bear Cub Way in Sevier County, Tenn., on Sunday. As of 8 p.m., there were 32 cabins reported burned with 40 more in danger.
A wildfire burning in a resort area outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee has destroyed more than 30 large rental cabins.

The 145-acre fire was first reported around 5 p.m. EDT Sunday in Sevier County, said Ben Bryson, a fire resources coordinator with the Tennessee Division of Forestry. Smoke was reported to be visible from 25 miles away.

Bryson said early Monday that the fire was contained and not expected to spread.

Some of the cabins were occupied and about 150 to 200 people were evacuated, but no injuries were reported, Bryson said.

After dawn Monday, two Tennessee Air National Guard helicopters took off from nearby McGhee Tyson Airport. A state Forestry Division spokesman said the helicopters would be used to scoop up water from Douglas Lake and drop it on the fire.

Phoenix

Southern California wildfire is 60 percent contained

Image
© ABC News
A California wildfire continues to blaze, having burned around 150 acres in and around Rancho Jurupa Regional Park, a county Fire spokeswoman said.
Riverside, California - Firefighters stopped the spread of a 311-acre wildfire in the heavily vegetated Santa Ana River bottom Friday, despite gusty Santa Ana winds and extremely dry conditions amid a late-winter heat spell.

Firefighters continued to work on hotspots, and a firefighting helicopter was on standby, said Greg Birchfield, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Riverside County.

Containment was estimated at 60 percent. Firefighters expect to have the fire fully contained by 8 p.m. Saturday. Afternoon conditions included northeast winds at 10-15 mph with gusts to 20-25 mph with temperatures in the low 80s and relative humidity at just 5 percent.

No injuries were reported, Birchfield said.

Solar Flares

Wildfires rage across Australia amid searing heat

Image
© AP Photo/New South Wales Rural Fire Service
In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, plumes of smoke rise from a fire near Cooma, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Temperatures across much of New South Wales state are expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) causing extreme conditions.
Firefighters battled scores of wildfires Tuesday in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuated national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level.

Temperatures soared to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas.

No deaths have been reported, although officials in Tasmania were still trying to find about 100 people who have been missing since last week when a fire tore through the small town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, destroying around 90 homes. On Tuesday, police found no bodies during preliminary checks of the ruined houses.

"You don't get conditions worse than this," New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. "We are at the catastrophic level and clearly in those areas leaving early is your safest option."

Catastrophic threat level is the most severe rating.

Wildfires are common during the Australian summer. The combination of soaring temperatures and dry, windy conditions since Friday have sparked fires that burned 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of forests and farmland across southern Tasmania.

Attention

Thousands stranded as crews continue to battle Tasmania bushfires

Tasmania fire
© ABC News / Damian McIver
A police road block at Forcett cuts access to the Tasman Peninsula this morning
Thousands of people are stranded and about 100 are still unaccounted for as out of control bushfires continue to burn in Tasmania.

The threat for the state's most destructive fires has been downgraded, but residents are being warned to remain vigilant.

More than 100 properties have been destroyed since the bushfires broke out in extreme heat on Friday, and police have warned that bodies may be found as teams go door-to-door in the devastated communities.

Extinguisher

Tasmania wildfires leave hundreds homeless

Image
© Photograph: Chris Kidd/EPA
The scale of bushfire damage is seen from a helicopter over Dunalley, Tasmania.
Town of Dunalley, east of Australian island's capital, Hobart, worst-hit with police station and school consumed by blaze.

Wildfires on the Australian island of Tasmania have destroyed at least 100 homes, leaving hundreds of people homeless or stranded amid scorching temperatures and high winds.

The small town of Dunalley, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, was worst hit by a blaze that destroyed around 80 buildings, including the school, police station and bakery.

The Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, said the federal government was working with local and state authorities to support those affected by the fires. "For those who have lost their homes, a devastating experience, ... we will be working with them, as will the state government to support people through," she said.

"There are media reports that a life has been lost - I'm not in a position to confirm that, but bushfires are very dangerous things."

Sun

Town consumed by fire shows drought, wind danger persist this fall

Image
© Bryan Horwath/The Dickinson Press/AP
A firefighter examines the flames as a fire sweeps through Bucyrus, N.D., on Wednesday night
When a grassfire destroyed most of tiny Bucyrus, N.D., this week, the "perfect firestorm" of conditions served as a reminder that the long-term drought, combined with unpredictable winds, makes for severe fire danger across the central U.S., even in the middle of autumn.

Four homes and 20 other structures were lost after the fire broke out Wednesday afternoon. Fanned by winds up to 70 mph, it consumed at least 6,000 acres and traveled 10 miles by Thursday morning, The Dickinson Press reported.

"This is like a nightmare," Linda Wiskus told The Dickinson Press. "I wouldn't wish this on anyone. ... We had about 15 minutes to get what we could. I grabbed a safe, a pair of jeans and some socks - I didn't have time to get anything else."

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but Bucyrus is in a county that's been in continued drought since October 2011, Adnan Akyuz, North Dakota's state climatologist, told NBC News. Conditions got even worse starting Oct. 2.

"When you combine warm, dry and windy conditions, it creates a perfect setting for elevated fire danger," Akyuz noted. Adding drought to that mix, he said, "makes it more dangerous conditions for fire."

Question

St. Petersburg's largest fire in decade extinguished after all-night battle

Image
© RIA Novosti / Vadim Zhernov
Fire in the Shushary industrial zone in St. Petersburg.
Firefighters successfully extinguished St. Petersburg's largest fire in decades after an all-night battle with the inferno. After a warehouse in the city's industrial zone caught fire, the blaze spread quickly to cover over 32,000 square feet.

The fire began Monday around 5:00pm GMT and was rated at level five - the highest in the Russian system.

Nearby workers noticed and reported the fire to authorities. Witnesses said that the city's entire southern region was cloaked in smoke, Vesti reported.