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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.


500 firefighters face steep, dry terrain to battle blaze in California

© David Mcnew/Getty Images
U.S. Forest Service firefighters stand near flames at the Williams fire in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 4, north of Glendora, Calif.
A 3,600-acre fire in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles chewed through thick brush in steep terrain that hadn't burned in two decades amid hot, dry conditions.

But with no serious winds to whip it or push it, the fire made no move toward the Los Angeles suburbs to the south, remaining within the wilderness instead.

Because of the terrain and warm temperatures, it could take a week to contain the blaze, Incident Commander James Smith of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told the Associated Press. It had burned about 5 1/2 square miles by late Tuesday. Containment was at 15 percent early Tuesday, NBCLosAngeles.com reported.

In an effort to further contain the blaze, firefighters are facing steep terrain with dry brush that has not burned for 15 to 20 years.

"You're going to see an air show out there today," Nathan Judy, Angeles National Forest Fire Information Officer told NBCLosAngeles.com.


Forest fire near Los Angeles could burn for days

Angeles National Forest fire
© Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Fire crews continue fighting Williams blaze in Angeles forest September 3, 2012
Authorities battling a wildfire in the Angeles National Forest more than doubled their deployments Monday, with 700 firefighters attacking the blaze with air tankers and helicopters.

But it will probably take several more days to fully contain the fire, which has burned 3,600 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Azusa, said John D. Wagner, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. He said the steep terrain made firefighting difficult. The blaze remained about 5% contained late Monday.

"It's not really accessible by foot, so we have to do air drops over the area," Wagner said.


Portugal asks for EU help to tackle dozens of forest fires

Portugal forest fire
© BBC News
Dozens of fires have been raging in the country
Portugal has said it is seeking European Union help to to tackle raging forest fires, in one of the worst summers for such blazes in years.

Dozens of fires are raging in the centre and north of the country and 1,700 firefighters have been deployed.


Thousands of Serb villagers evacuated as wildfires rage unabated

Hundreds of wildfires have broken out in recent weeks
Serbia evacuated thousands of villagers on Saturday and called in the army to help fight wildfires raging through the drought-hit western Balkans.

Fires near the southwestern Serbian town of Cacak swept through hillsides and cornfields dried to a crisp by scorching temperatures, forcing the evacuation of three villages, a Reuters correspondent reported.

"I've lost everything," said Mileta Cajic, from the village of Srezojevci. "An entire orchard, woods, raspberries, and now my house is about to go up in flames. This is the worst disaster one could imagine."

Russia sent a Beriev Be-200 fire-fighting plane, with a capacity of 12 tonnes, to join a Russian helicopter that has been in action for days trying to douse the fires.


Wildfires in Spain force 1,000 to evacuate homes in worst fire-ravaged summer for 10 years


Firefighters battle a blaze in Bedar, Spain
Two wildfires in the south forced the evacuation of around 1,000 residents, making this the worst summer in a decade for countryside devoured by flames, authorities said Sunday.

A fire started near Bedar, 85 kilometres (about 50 miles) north of Almeria, where residents spent the night in a sports centre, regional officials said. Residents and army personnel have collaborated with firefighters in combating the flames, Bedar Mayor Maria Gonzalez said.

Another fire was being brought under control late Sunday near the Mediterranean beach resort of Estepona, about 35 kilometres (20 miles) west of Marbella.

This year, Spain has lost 149,300 hectares (577 square miles) of forest and countryside in more than 11,650 wildfires, compared to around 107,000 hectares (415 square miles) for the whole of 2002, according to official statistics.

Comment: Arson or not, they need a scapegoat to distract people from realising that the enormous cutbacks in public services are largely to blame:

Cuts blamed for deaths caused by devastating Spanish wildfires


California Governor Declares Wildfire Emergency

© CalFire
Firefighter at the Ponderosa Fire, August 20, 2012
Sacramento, California - Wildfires that have destroyed homes, forced evacuations and caused road closures prompted California Governor Jerry Brown to issue an emergency proclamation today for three northern California counties at their request.

"I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist due to the fires in the counties of Plumas, Shasta, and Tehama," the governor said in his proclamation. "The fires have destroyed residences and threaten thousands of homes and other structures, causing residents to be evacuated, roads to be closed, and emergency shelters to be opened."

The Ponderosa Fire near Manton in Tehama County has now burned 24,323 acres and is 50 percent contained. The fire was started by lightning on August 18 and has spread to neighboring Shasta County.

Thousands of people have been ordered to leave their homes as the blaze in thick forest threatens rural communities. About 3,500 homes in an area along the border of Tehama and Shasta counties are threatened as the fire continues to expand.

On Saturday, the Shasta County Sheriff's Office closed Highway 44 between Shingletown and Viola and evacuated area residents from at least 700 homes. Since then, security details have been patrolling the evacuated areas and will remain until the residents are allowed to return to their homes.

"At this time it is too early to speculate when Highway 44 road closure will be lifted," the Shasta County Sheriff's Office said this morning. "Law enforcement and fire personnel are evaluating the fire. We are looking at the weather and safety conditions hour by hour in hopes to allow the residents to return to their homes safely."

"Resources are stretched thin and fire suppression activities are still in effect," said the sheriff's office. "We do not want to lift closures prematurely and open up the area with unsafe conditions."


Heatwave Fuels Wildfires Across Southern Europe

Wildfire France
© Sky News
France: An air tanker spreads water above a forest fire in a devastated area near the French sea resort of Lacanau on the Atlantic coast.
The Greek secret service is called in to investigate arson as firefighters tackle blazes that are raging across southern Europe.

Wildfires have been spreading across southern Europe, fuelled by the hot, dry climate.

Firefighters in Spain are struggling to cope with the country's worst blazes in a decade while thousands of acres of forest are being destroyed by fires spreading across Greece.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, a state of emergency has been declared around a town in the northeast of the country, as fires have left many residents suffering heat exhaustion.


Southern France Struggles With Extreme Heat, Wildfires

French authorities are fighting wildfires, keeping an eye on isolated elderly populations and advising people to drink fluids as temperatures soar. Heat wave warnings were issued for a swath of central and southern France, from Burgundy to the Pyrenees. Temperatures are expected to reach up to 104 degrees in some areas.