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Wildfires

Phoenix

US: Fires sweeping across Texas; firefighter killed

Image
© The Associated Press / LM Otero
Texas Gov. Rick Perry takes a break from making photos to look at an area burned by wildfires from a jet plane during a low altitude tour of Stonewall County near Swenson, Texas, Tuesday, April 12, 2011.
A day after losing one of their own, firefighters returned to the front lines Saturday to battle wildfires sweeping across hundreds of thousands of acres in Texas that have destroyed dozens of homes.

Strong winds and drought-stricken grasses and shrubs are fueling the fires that forced hundreds of evacuations, including an entire town, and destroyed at least 60 homes on Friday. Firefighters worked overnight as the blazes burned across about 655 sq. miles, according to the Texas Forest Service.

Some of the fires have been burning for a week or more, including three in West Texas that have charred a combined 400,000 acres.

Volunteer firefighter Gregory M. Simmons, 51, died while battling a 3,000-acre blaze Friday afternoon near Eastland, a town about 130 miles west of Dallas, Eastland Mayor Mark Pipkin said. Simmons had been a firefighter for two decades, including 11 years in Eastland, the mayor said.

"Apparently he was overcome by smoke, fell in a ditch and was consumed" by the fire, said Justice of the Peace James King, who pronounced Simmons dead at the scene along a rural road.

No other injuries have been reported.

Bizarro Earth

Large Fires in Northern Mexico

Mexico Fires_1
© NASA Earth Observatory
NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen, using Landsat 5 data provided by the United States Geological Survey.
Mexico Fires_2
© NASA Earth Observatory
Acquired April 9, 2011
These images, taken by the Landsat-5 satellite on April 9, 2011, illustrate the challenges facing firefighters combating two large wildfires in northern Mexico's Coahuila state. The fires are burning on steep mountain slopes that are difficult to impossible for ground crews to reach. The top image shows dense plumes of smoke blowing northeast on strong winds. The lower image, which includes both infrared and visible light, provides a view through the smoke to the freshly burned terrain.

The fires, called El Bonito and La Sabina, were caused by lightning strikes in mid-March and had burned 99,000 hectares (245,000 acres or 380 square miles) as of April 11. The fires are among the largest in Mexico's history, according to news reports. The burned land is brick red in the lower image. Hot areas glow orange in infrared light, revealing the active fire front on the south and west sides of the burned area. (The orange horizontal stripes are satellite sensor artifacts.)

Phoenix

US: Texas wildfires destroy homes, buildings

Wildfires scorched more than 230,000 acres in Texas on Sunday, roaring through a West Texas town, destroying an estimated 80 homes and buildings and critically injuring a firefighter.

The Texas Forest Service reported more than 60,000 acres burned and 40 homes lost in one blaze that raced through West Texas and into the small mountain town of Fort Davis. The fire rushed across 20 miles in 90 minutes.

Officials at the scene, however, estimated at least 100,000 acres in two counties had burned from the fire, which continued to grow Sunday evening.

"I can only describe it as an ocean of black, with a few islands of yellow," State Representative Pete Gallego said.

Phoenix

US: Colorado wildfire forces evacuation of 9,500 homes

A wind-whipped wildfire forced the evacuation of 9,500 homes southeast of Denver on Thursday just as firefighters were gaining the upper hand on a separate blaze that has burned stubbornly for five days west of the city.

Deputy Michelle Rademacher of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said the latest fire has scorched about 1,600 acres in the wooded bluffs near Franktown, Colorado.

"We're not aware of any structures lost, but the high winds are pushing it close to heavily populated neighborhoods, so we called for mandatory evacuations," she said.

The fire grew quickly as sustained winds of 40 miles per hour fanned the flames through dry brush, grasses and trees.

Extinguisher

US: Hawaii wildfire threatens protected rainforest

hawaii,fire
© Unknown
Honolulu - Specialized firefighting teams Wednesday battled a remote wildfire touched off by the eruption of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island, which has burned some 2,000 acres of national park land.

The fire threatens a fragile, protected rain forest, officials said.

Authorities do not know when they will be able to contain the spreading fire, which was being fanned by strong, gusty trade winds, said Gary Wuchner, a spokesman for the National Park Service.

Phoenix

Lava from erupting Hawaii volcano sparks wildfire

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© AP Photo/US Geological Survey
Authorities say lava from a volcano eruption in Hawaii has sparked a wildfire in Volcanoes National Park.

Park firefighters said Monday that the blaze has burned at least 30 hectares since Sunday. They say the lava is from the Kamoamoa eruption.

Park ranger Mardie Lane says the fire is creeping through Ohia forest in an area that has been burned at least twice due to lava flows.

Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, has been in constant eruption since Jan. 3, 1983.

Firefi ghters plan to fly over the area Tuesday to assess the situation.

Clock

Colorado wildfire prompts evacuation of 200 homes

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© Associated Press/Will Powers
A fire truck blocks traffic on Left Hand Canuon Road north of Boulder, Colo. Friday, March 11, 2011. High winds on the front range akes the fire difficult to manage. A wildfire that has prompted the evacuation of more than 200 homes north of Boulder, Colo., has spread to about 200 acres.
Boulder, Colo. - A wildfire driven by dry, windy weather scorched at least 200 acres Friday in the foothills west of Boulder, prompting the evacuation of roughly 200 homes.

An air tanker from New Mexico started dropping fire retardant on the flames by afternoon as wind gusts that had reached 60 mph eased to between 20 and 30 mph.

About 100 firefighters also battled the blaze, which was burning near an area where a wildfire charred nearly 10 square miles and destroyed 169 homes in September.

Maribeth Pecotte of the U.S. Forest Service said the fire had grown to between 200 and 300 acres and was threatening 12 structures, none of which were homes. No buildings have been damaged.

Bizarro Earth

One person dead, 110,000 acres burned in Texas wildfires

Firefighters in Texas continued efforts to contain fast-moving wildfires that have destroyed nearly 60 homes, burned more than 110,000 acres and caused an accident that killed a 5-year-old child, state forestry officials said Monday.


The fires broke out about noon Sunday, said Lewis Kearney, a spokesman for the forest service's Texas State Lone Star Incident Management Team. Officials believe many were started by power lines that fell from high winds.

Since that time, forestry officials, who were called in to help local fire departments, have responded to 25 fires in 15 counties across the Texas Panhandle, Kearney said.

Bizarro Earth

Australia in grip of disasters as wildfires, floods wreck havoc

Image
© unknown
A bushfire burns close to a vineyard in Roleystone, near Perth.
Australia was battling a series of natural and man-made disasters as raging wildfires destroyed over 40 homes on the west coast city of Perth and Victoria was lashed by flashfloods that led to one death, while heavy thunderstorms were threatening to submerge Queensland.

The Meteorology department said heavy rains and possible flash flooding could hit parts of Brisbane, the Somerset area, Ipswich and Lockyer Valley, areas which are already reeling under the recent flooding.

Senior forecaster Rick Threlfall said a major storm was developing around the Marburg and Amberley areas, west of Brisbane, a reported by Herald Sun said quoting experts.

"That storm's not moving too far and it's produced about 40 to 50 mm (rainfall) in the last hour... with those rainfall totals flash flooding is a potential," he said.

"We've also got a storm currently heading towards Toowoomba. That's not looking too severe at the moment," he added.

Phoenix

US: Colorado fire commander says next 36 hours pivotal

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© AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
A slurry bomber drops retardant on a burning ridge as the sun sets behind it as a wildfire burns west of Loveland, Colo., on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010.
Loveland - Officials say the next 36 hours are pivotal for crews to make headway against a fire burning very dry trees and grass in steep terrain of northern Colorado foothills.

Incident team manager Jim Thomas says warm, dry weather is helping fuel the nearly 1,000-acre wildfire near Loveland, and crews are also expecting winds to pick up later Tuesday and into Wednesday.

More than 400 firefighters have been assigned to fight the fire. The team that led the fight against a wildfire that's now contained near Boulder has taken over.