Three Forest Fires Burn Out of Control in Alberta; Fire Ban in Effect

© Edmonton journal Aerial photograph of a wildfire near Lodgepole taken by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development firefighters.
Canada - As firefighters work around the clock on three forest fires burning out of control in northern Alberta, officials issued a fire ban on Monday for most forested areas in the province.

"The wildfire situation in most of Alberta is serious," said Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen in a news release.

"Unfortunately, most of the wildfires we are fighting right now appear to be human-caused and therefore were 100 per cent preventable. It is very important that everyone take precautions to avoid starting fires - it is so dry and windy in many places that fires can start and spread very quickly."

Firefighters are trying to contain:

A 1,000-hectare blaze near the hamlet of Grassland in northeast Alberta.

A 650-hectare fire near Bonnyville in the eastern part of the province.

A fire half the size of the Bonnyville blaze, near Lodgepole, southwest of Edmonton.

The wind, along with warm, dry conditions, continue to pose the biggest challenge for firefighters, said Geoff Driscoll, a wildfire information officer.

"Certainly the one in Grassland grew the biggest yesterday, but the one near Bonnyville came out a little later in the evening and grew pretty big pretty fast," said Driscoll.


Fires from Long Island to Florida test crews

© MSNBC/Today ShowBrush fires fanned by gusty winds have been raging throughout the New York tri-state area, with one blaze injuring firefighters and destroying buildings on a swath of Long Island.
Dry and breezy conditions were fanning brush fires and wildfires up and down the East Coast, including one on Long Island, N.Y., where two blazes merged overnight, officials said Tuesday morning.

"The fire is not under control. It's burning heavily," NBCNewYork.com quoted Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone as saying at a press briefing. "We're putting as much water on it as we can."

The weather conditions made for "red flag warnings" along the East Coast, NBC weather anchor Al Roker said on TODAY. Areas from Long Island to Florida and as far west as Kentucky were under the advisory, which reflects extremely dangerous fire conditions.

In Long Island's Suffolk County, a state of emergency was declared Tuesday and mandatory evacuations were earlier ordered for an undetermined number of residents in Ridge and Manorville.


Colorado Wildfire Could Be Linked to Controlled Burn

© The Associated PressClick Here to Watch Video
US: Conifer, Colorado - Firefighters were hoping to start containing at least part of a mountain wildfire Wednesday that forced hundreds of residents to flee, damaged 28 homes and may have caused the deaths of two people.

Strong gusts and erratic fire behavior forced crews to focus largely on protecting homes overnight instead of attacking the fire that broke out Monday, but more resources have been arriving.

The blaze is among the top in the nation for the priority to get firefighting resources, fire officials said late Tuesday.

Some 450 firefighters from Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah were sent to assist 250 firefighters on the ground. Weather permitting, four aircraft were scheduled to drop retardant Wednesday on the 7-square-mile blaze that resulted in mandatory evacuations of 900 homes south of the commuter town of Conifer, about 25 miles southwest of downtown Denver.

Residents of 6,500 more homes were warned Tuesday to be ready to leave because of the fire's behavior. Many homes are in winding canyons, and authorities wanted to give citizens as much advance warning as possible.

Meanwhile, investigators are trying to determine whether the fire reignited from a controlled burn that was meant to reduce vegetation that could fuel a devastating blaze around homes and watersheds.


Colorado Wildfire Kills 1, Chars Homes

© The Associated Press/Kris GarrettA plume of smoke rises skyward over the top of a wildfire burning out of control near Conifer, Colo., March 26, 2012.
US: Conifer, Colorado - One person has been found dead in a Colorado wildfire that burned more than 4½ square miles and destroyed at least five homes in the mountains southwest of Denver, authorities said Monday.

The victim's name wasn't immediately released and investigators haven't said how the person died.

The fast-moving wildfire was reported at midday Monday and spread quickly amid dry, windy weather.

"We're in a defensive mode, structure protection only," Jefferson County Sheriff's spokeswoman Jacki Kelley said. "We're not really fighting the fire right now."

Kelley said authorities don't know how many houses were lost but said it was at least five and probably more than 10.

Authorities ordered residents of more than 900 homes to evacuate.

There were no other reports of injuries, but a sheriff's deputy who was alerting residents to leave was trapped in his patrol car after he inadvertently drove into a ditch in the thick smoke, Kelley said. He summoned help by radio.

Up to a dozen smaller fires were reported from the northeast Colorado plains to the southern part of the state. There were no immediate reports of injuries or structures destroyed in any of the other fires.


Twin threat: Cyclone, bushfires threaten Western Australia

Cyclone Iggy
© Bureau of MeteorologyTropical Cyclone Iggy off the Western Australia coast
A tropical cyclone and major bushfires are posing a twin threat to travellers in Western Australia's central west.

Authorities are concerned holidaymakers from Perth and elsewhere may find themselves stranded.

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority had urged tourists to leave the Gascoyne region because flooding, linked to the approaching Cyclone Iggy, could cut off the highway to Perth.

But now bushfires have forced the closure of the highway, south of Carnarvon.


US, Nevada: Reno Brush Fire Stopped After Charring 20 Homes

© The Associated PressFirefighters battle a wind-driven brush fire burning through Pleasant Valley, south of Reno, Nev., Jan. 19, 2012.
A brush fire fueled by 82 mph wind gusts burned more than 20 homes Thursday and forced thousands of people to evacuate their neighborhoods before firefighters stopped the flames' surge toward Reno.

About 2,000 people remained under evacuation orders late Thursday as 250 firefighters battled the blaze, said Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez, who warned that a full assessment might reveal even more damage.

There was one fatality in the fire area, Hernandez said, but he declined to provide more details, saying an autopsy would be needed to determine the cause of death.

The fire, of unknown origin, broke out shortly after noon in a valley along U.S. Highway 395. Soon, more than 10,000 people were told to flee their homes.


Chile battles 3 huge wildfires; 1 killed, tourists evacuated, losses in millions

Chile forest fire
© Associated PressA helicopter works to dampen an area of the Torres del Paine national park in Torres del Paine, Chile
Firefighters in Chile battled three huge wildfires Monday that have burned about 90 square miles (23,000 hectares) of forest, destroyed more than 100 homes and have driven away thousands of tourists while causing millions of dollars in losses.

The fires also claimed their first victim: an elderly man who refused warnings to leave his home.

Chile's normally rainy southern regions are suffering from a nationwide heat wave, on top of a drought that makes fires increasingly likely. The country was battling 48 separate fires on Sunday alone, and red alerts were declared for the regions of Magallanes, Bio Bio and Maule.

"We have a situation of extreme vulnerability," said President Sebastian Pinera, who called for toughening sentences for arson.

Bizarro Earth

US: Major Wildfire Outside Reno, Nevada closes 90 schools

State and county officials in northern Nevada have declared a state of emergency as a wind-whipped wildfire in Reno has destroyed more than 20 homes and forced the evacuation of thousands.

"It's tough man, it's tough," Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Friday. "The winds are not helping us at all."


US: Minnesota Wildfire Now 19 Percent Contained

mn wildfire smoke
© WISN Milwaukee
Hundreds of firefighters continue to make progress in containing a huge wildfire in northeastern Minnesota that began a month ago.

A spokesman for the firefighters, Larry Helmerick, said Monday the 147-square-mile fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is 19 percent contained, an improvement from 11 percent on Sunday.

Helmerick says 598 firefighters are on the ground in the Boundary Waters, where helicopters, tankers and bulldozers are being used to battle the blaze that started with a lightning strike Aug. 18.

Smoke from the blaze traveled nearly 400 miles to Southeast Wisconsin early last week. Two days of smoke and ash prompted air quality alerts across southern Wisconsin.


US, Minnesota: Residents being asked to evacuate as wind gusts fuel wildfire in northeastern Minnesota

Pagami Creek Fire
© Greg SeitzCanoeists paddle through the narrows between Lake Four and Lake Three, looking south at the fire and the smoke on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. "It really grew during the course of the day," said Greg Seitz, communications director for the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.
Residents and campers near the Boundary Waters fire are being asked to evacuate as a wildfire burning in northeastern Minnesota continues to grow.

Fueled by dry trees and winds gusting to near 40 miles per hour, the Pagami Creek Fire has at least doubled in size, and some estimates say it may have tripled since the weekend.

It is now spreading south outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

"We're expecting higher winds again tomorrow coming out of the northwest," said Becca Manlove, public information officer with the Pagami Creek Fire Information. "We would rather people have a little time to think and gather things and move rather than asking them on very short notice.