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Mon, 28 May 2018
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At least 74 wildfires rage in 8 Western states; over a million acres burnt

At least 74 wildfires are burning in eight Western states and consumed more than a million acres combined. Jamie Yuccas reports.


Wildfires burning more than half a million acres in Montana

Montana wildfires
© U.S. Forest Service Photo/InciWeb
In southeastern Montana, a wind-driven wildfire ripped through parched forest and grasslands, forcing the evacuation of an undetermined number of ranches and homes, officials said Thursday.
As the country keeps its eyes trained on Houston, another natural disaster is ravaging states far to the north.

With red flag warnings covering 200,000 square miles of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and the Dakotas saying the danger for new wildfires is imminent, firefighters continue to battle blazes that have burned huge swaths of land.

This summer has been particularly dry and windy for our northern neighbors and a lack of moisture and unfortunate weather has led to hundreds of wildfires burning across Montana, Idaho and northern California.

Rainfall at this point hasn't been much help; lightning strikes on Wednesday sparked at least 40 more in a state already on fire, according to the Great Falls Tribune. High winds are pushing the fires and helping them spread.

Firefighter Brent M. Witham of Mentone, California, died in early August after a tree fell on the 29-year-old.

Smoke is so heavy in Montana that planes couldn't fly over the fires to check their size or status, the Tribune said on Wednesday.

Back in July, Gov. Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency in Montana. The declaration was issued July 24, sometime after the federal government denied the state's request for aid. Three days later, the feds reversed their decision and sent FEMA in to help.


Largest wildfire in Los Angeles' history: More than 700 are forced to evacuate as 8,000 acres are scorched

LAFD on scene responding to fire along La Tuna Canyon Road near Burbank where flames devour a hill

LAFD on scene responding to fire along La Tuna Canyon Road near Burbank where flames devour a hill
The largest fire in Los Angeles history is engulfing thousands of acres of land and forcing residents to evacuate homes throughout the county.

The fire, dubbed the La Tuna Fire after the canyon where it erupted, has already burned through 8,000 acres of land, and the heatwave in the area along with erratic winds are proving major obstacles for firefighters trying control the blaze.

The fire broke out Friday and has already forced the partial closure of the 210 Freeway, a major thoroughfare.

The 210 is closed between the Glendale Freeway and Sunland Boulevard.

It's unclear when the freeway will completely reopen, according to the LA Times.

The blaze started with just one acre of brush on Friday.

The enormous blaze led authorities to evacuate more than 700 homes in a north Los Angeles neighborhood and in nearby Burbank and Glendale, officials said.


La Tuna fire prompts hundreds of mandatory evacuations in Burbank, California

© lacofireairops / Instagram
A ferocious bushfire near Los Angeles has spread across thousands of acres, prompting the mandatory evacuations of hundreds of homes in Burbank, California.

Burbank police announced mandatory evacuations of residents in the Brace Canyon Park area after the surrounding Verdugo Mountains caught fire at about 1:30pm on Friday afternoon.


Massive US wildfire crosses into Canada and growing rapidly

Diamond Creek Fire

The Diamond Creek Fire crossed the US border sometime overnight Aug. 30. This photo was taken Aug. 30 at around 2 p.m. from near the 60-kilometre mark on the Ashnola Road, near Keremeos.
Canadian portion of Diamond Creek Fire grows to 1,700 hectares, forced closure of Cathedral Park.

The Diamond Creek Fire that started in the US and crossed into Canada sometime over the last 24 hours is growing at a rapid rate.

The Canadian portion of the fire has grown to more than 1,700 hectares in size since nightfall Tuesday.

The fire is burning about 17 kilometres northeast of East Gate in Manning Park and 50 kilometres southwest of Keremeos.

"BC Wildfire Service is currently assessing what values are threatened and are currently assessing how to tackle this," said Justine Hunse, fire officer for BC Wildfire Service.

As a precautionary measure the province has ordered the closure and evacuation of Cathedral Provincial Park near Keremeos.

The Diamond Creek Fire started July 23 and has consumed more than 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of Pasayten Wilderness in Washington State. The fire has been deemed to be human caused.

Glenda Patterson, owner of the Cathedral Lakes Lodge located in the provincial park said she was told about the closure and evacuation order around 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Her staff has been working to evacuate the park since.

Comment: 2017 is British Columbia's worst wildfire season on record


Dozens of wildfires break out along the Adriatic coast of Croatia

A fire rages in Trogir, Croatia, as firefighters battle several large blazes along the Adriatic coast
A fire rages in Trogir, Croatia, as firefighters battle several large blazes along the Adriatic coast
Croatian firefighters and armed forces were fighting dozens of wildfires on Monday (Aug 21) along the Adriatic coastline and on the popular tourist islands of Hvar and Brac, officials said.

The situation was most severe in the mountains around the mainland city of Zadar, where 32 fires have broken out since late Sunday, according to Slavko Tucakovic, chief commander of Croatia's firefighters.

The authorities closed part of the highway linking the capital Zagreb with the second largest Croatian city of Split. Local media reported that some drivers, fearing the fire, turned their cars around and drove in the opposite direction.

A dozen jets and helicopters were trying to bring the fires under control, with some 100 soldiers along with firefighters from other regions sent to help. Strong winds were making the job more difficult, Tucakovic said.


Wildfires in British Columbia combine to create province's largest blaze; 130 kilometres wide

There are currently 137 wildfires burning across B.C.
© Parks Canada-M.Kinley
There are currently 137 wildfires burning across B.C.
A handful of small fires in B.C.'s west Cariboo region have merged to create what is now the largest fire in the province.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says the Plateau wildfire, northwest of Williams Lake, is estimated to be about 438,000 hectares and 130 kilometres from one end to the other.

Fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said the fire hasn't grown significantly in size, but several wildfires burning since about July 7 have now joined together.

"It is a challenge just logistically and operationally when it's covering such a huge area," Skrepnek said.

"We've got two separate teams now managing it because it's such a large incident."


Scientists perplexed as unusually large wildfire has burned for weeks in icy Greenland

Greenland wildfire
© Getty Images / AFP
This NOAA handout satellite photo taken on August 3, 2017 shows a cloud of smoke from wildfires burning in western Greenland, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) northeast of Sisimiut.
There's something curious happening in icy Greenland: a wildfire that has been burning for weeks.

The wildfire appears to be historic in both its size and its duration, but no one can say for sure - because Greenland doesn't have longstanding records of fires. Officials haven't had much of a need for them, seeing as nearly 80 percent of the Arctic island is covered in an ice sheet.

"There are wildfires, but it's not a typical wildfire environment, and it's a remote area," said Stef Lhermitte, a remote sensing scientist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

At about two square miles, this wildfire is relatively small compared to others around the world. But it's the biggest in Greenland since satellite record-keeping began in 2000.

This one was first spotted on satellite on July 31 in western Greenland, about 90 miles northeast of the city of Sisimiut - and it's still burning.

Past wildfires in Greenland have only lasted one to three days, said Dr. Jessica McCarty, an assistant professor of geography at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and an expert in satellite data analysis. This one is about 40 miles west of the ice sheet.

Comment: Last year a rare winter wildfire ignited in Alaska, despite a foot of snow on the ground and forest fires broke out in Switzerland (in the dead of winter!)

Last month mysterious plumes of steam were recorded rising from a Greenland glacier which may be another sign of powerful geothermal activity from below. See also:

SOTT Exclusive: The growing threat of underground fires and explosions


Yosemite fire near famous tree grove forces evacuation of Wawona

© inciweb.nwcg.gov via AP
This photo provided by inciweb.nwcg.gov shows a fire burning near the town of Wawona, Calif., within Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada.
With a growing forest fire and more forecasted thunderstorms, fire officials have ordered the evacuation of this small town just inside the south entrance of Yosemite National Park.

The South Fork Fire, near the South Fork of the Merced River, has burned more than 2,900 acres since Aug. 13 and is only 10 percent contained, a fire official said Saturday. The fire intensified Friday night as a result of thunderstorm downdraft winds and several spot fires from that weather, according to Yosemite officials.


Public calamity decreed in Portugal as wildfires continue to rage out of control

Portugal wildfire
© AP Photo/Armando Franca
A man runs with a water hose as villagers join firefighters battling a forest fire coming close to houses in the village of Chao de Codes, near Macao, central Portugal, Wednesday, Aug. 16 2017.
The government of Portugal has issued a state of public calamity as wildfires continue to burn across the country ahead of a weekend heat wave.

More than 10,000 separate fires have been recorded across Portugal this year according to The Portugal News.

While most of them have been associated with human negligence, rounds of intense heat and prolonged drought conditions have made the situation more serious than recent years.

The fires over the past week have injured 86 people, seven seriously, according to the Associated Press. The combination of high temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds will create a scenario for dangerous wildfire conditions from Saturday into Monday.

The worst conditions are expected on Sunday as temperatures approach 40 C (104 F) across parts of the interior.

Northern and central interior areas will be at highest risk for new wildfires into early next week.

Temperatures will remain well above normal on Monday before falling back to near normal by Wednesday and Thursday lowering the wildfire threat.

Wildfires have burned roughly 141,000 hectares (350,000) acres this year, nearly 500 percent above the average over the past 10 years, according to the Institute for Forests and Nature Conservation.

Comment: A record number of 220 wildfires were recorded in one day last week in Portugal.