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Wildfire burns outside Great Smoky Mountains

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.


Southern California wildfire is 60 percent contained

© 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

© 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.


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.


Tasmania wildfires leave hundreds homeless

© 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."


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

© 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."


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

© 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.


California wildfire destroys 20 homes, threatens more

© The Associated Press/The Press-Enterprise/Frank Bellino
Residents help battle the Temprano Fire Sunday, Sep. 23, 2012 in Murrieta, Calif. near Warm Springs Park and Preserve. Firefighters raced the winds Monday morning to contain Southern California wildfires that destroyed 20 homes and threatened several hundred more in rural areas.
Residents of a rural San Diego County community were waiting anxiously to learn the fate of homes near a destructive 4-square-mile wildfire that has left one man dead.

Christopher Kirchner told U-T San Diego that his rental home was about 200 feet from a residence that burned down - one of 20 homes destroyed by the fire so far.

"I was just talking to some of my neighbors," Kirchner said. "They were crying and saying they had no place to go. We've heard rumors that our place is still standing, but nobody will tell us anything."

Firefighters recovered a man's body from one of the destroyed homes Monday, a state fire spokesman, Robbie Richard said. Authorities say the man ignored evacuation orders issued for the community of Tierra del Sol.

"He felt that he was going to be OK if he stayed," sheriff's Lt. Rose Kurupas told the newspaper. It was not clear whether he was notified of the order in person or by an automated phone call.

Authorities said neighbors reported the man missing when they saw his only vehicle parked at the home. Neighbors told U-T San Diego he was 82 and had only one leg.


Central Washington Wildfire Triples in Size, 600 Homes Under Threat

Spokane, Washington - The Table Mountain Complex of wildfires in central Washington's Chelan and Kittitas counties has tripled in size to more than 47 square miles, fire spokeswoman Jan Ulrich said Thursday.

A combination of factors - including warm temperatures, winds, very low humidity and low moisture in the vegetation - caused the complex to grow and merge into one large fire on Wednesday, Ulrich said.

"It was very active fire behavior yesterday and we are expecting the same today,'" Ulrich said Thursday.

The Table Mountain blaze is being fought by more than 750 firefighters and was 5 percent contained by Thursday night. It has not burned any homes, but Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana said Thursday that 161 homes north of Ellensburg and in the Liberty area are under a Level 3 evacuation, meaning residents are urged to leave.

The Table Mountain Complex is one of several wildfires burning on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range. The largest, the Wenatchee Complex, has grown to about 65 square miles. It was 24 percent contained and was being fought by more than 2,000 firefighters.

The fires are blanketing Eastern Washington with smoke, and dry conditions have led the state to issue restrictions on logging and other industrial activities in the forests.


Washington state wildfires prompt evacuations, destroy three homes

Seattle - Fast-growing wildfires destroyed three homes in Washington state on Wednesday and threatened 350 more buildings as firefighters worked to keep the flames at bay and hundreds of residents prepared to evacuate.

The fires raging in Washington have charred 130,000 acres and the weather could make things worse, officials said. The fires were among a cluster of blazes raging in the U.S. West.

"Conditions look horrible," said Paul Perz, the state's assistant fire marshal. "We're anticipating that unstable conditions and winds in eastern Washington will fuel the fires."

The wildfires were sparked by thousands of weekend lightning strikes that ignited more than 150 fires on Monday. Six new fires started on Wednesday.

The most menacing of the blazes, located about 140 miles east of Seattle, has spread to 9,500 acres and is threatening about 125 homes. More than 700 residents have been urged to evacuate.

Although 620 firefighters were on the scene, little of the fire was contained, Perz said.

"Portions of the town are threatened," said John Kruse, Wenatchee police sergeant. "Right now, we're taking it 12 hours at a time."

The so-called Barker Canyon Complex fire in the Grand Coulee region in eastern Washington destroyed three homes and nine outbuildings on Wednesday, but was 20 percent contained, Perz said.