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Mon, 28 May 2018
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Mandatory evacuations ordered for wildfire in San Luis Obispo County, CA

Hill Fire CA 6 2017

Firefighters in San Luis Obispo County made significant gains against a wildfire burning east of Santa Margarita that has forced residents to evacuate about 100 homes, officials said Tuesday. The Hill fire is burning in an area dotted with secluded homes surrounded by hills. Many areas are blanketed in 12-foot high grass and dried-out vegetation, said Chris Elms of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The blaze has scorched about 1,500 acres and was 40% contained Tuesday morning thanks to a dip in temperatures overnight and increased humidity, Elms said. "Last night was about getting in as many resources as we could and taking advantage," Elms said. About 1,200 firefighters are expected to be in the area by the end of Tuesday, Elms said.

The fire is burning in steep terrain and in light vegetation that burns easily and quickly. The flames ran southeast Monday afternoon and destroyed one structure though authorities can't say whether it was a home or smaller building, Elms said.

Bizarro Earth

Arizona's 18,000 acre Goodwin fire forces Mayer to evacuate, closes major road to Prescott

Mayer AZ fire 6 2017
© Tom Tingle/The Republic
Don Sandy (left) watches the Goodwin Fire as seen from his house in the town of Mayer on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. Mayer was later evacuated.

Hundreds of anxious Mayer residents, forced from their homes just hours before by the rapidly spreading Goodwin Fire, gathered at a Prescott Valley high school Tuesday night to get the latest news on the progress of the flames threatening their community. But little of what fire officials said was comforting as erratic winds continued to push flames through tinderbox-dry conditions along rough terrain. By nightfall, the Goodwin Fire had forced Mayer and other areas to evacuate, closed a major road to Prescott and scorched 18,000 acres. It was only 1 percent contained as of Tuesday night.

With that reality, the crowd was reminded of the potential cost of protecting structures, when one official mentioned a looming anniversary of a tragedy that remains all too fresh in the area. Pete Gordon, fire chief for Prescott National Forest, brought up the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died on a hill four years ago June 30 while fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire, which sparked two days prior.

"They weigh heavy on my mind, and I am sure they weigh heavy on your mind," he told the crowd. "So please understand that while we send firefighters into difficult places, there are places we will not go. We hope you support and appreciate that."

Bizarro Earth

The Utah Wildfire has grown to become the largest active fire in the U.S.

Utah fire june 2017
© George Frey—Getty Images
Smoke billows from a stand of trees near Panguitch, Utah, on June 25, 2017.

Brian Head, UT - The nation's largest wildfire has forced more than 1,500 people from their homes and cabins in a southern Utah mountain area home to a ski town and popular fishing lake. Firefighters battled high winds Monday as they fought a fire that has grown to 72 square miles and burned 13 homes — larger than any other fire in the country now, state emergency managers said.

Some flames reached 100 feet high, while fire crews faced dry, windy conditions Tuesday and a "high potential" for "extreme" fire behavior, officials said late Monday. The estimated firefighting costs now top $7 million for a fire started June 17 near the Brian Head Resort by someone using a torch tool to burn weeds, they said. Investigators know who the culprit is, but have not yet released the person's identity or what charges will be leveled. Crews in California, meanwhile, got a handle on a brush fire that closed a freeway. Arizona firefighters had to ground aircraft due to unauthorized drones over a fire near Flagstaff.


Wildfire closes interstate highway at Rockledge, Florida

I-95 wildfire closure
Smoke from the fire had authorities eventually shut down north and southbound traffic on I-95 between Fiske and 520 Tuesday morning.
The Tucker Fire, triggered by lightning, burned 1,700 acres of land on St. Johns River Water Management District property.


Wildfires blazing under extreme heat in Southwestern US

The Brian Head Fire in Utah
© Utah Fire Info
The Brian Head Fire in Utah
A series of wildfires is blazing across the Southwest as the chance of rain remains low amid a deadly heatwave.

Eighteen large fires are burning in the region, including six in Arizona, three in Utah, three in California, three in New Mexico, two in Nevada and a large one in Oregon. The two biggest wildfires are in southern Arizona and Utah.

Wildfires already have caused far more destruction than usual in the first half of 2017, meteorologist Haley Brink of the CNN Weather Center said. Almost 1 million more acres had burned by Thursday, compared with the 10-year average through June 22.


2,000 forced to flee as wildfire tears through Spanish national park

The blaze raging through forest land in La Penuela, Huelva, Spain

The blaze raging through forest land in La Penuela, Huelva, Spain
More than 2,000 people including holidaymakers at a hotel and campsite have been evacuated after a wildfire near a Spanish national park.

Tourists on two campsites in the Mazagon beach town area of Huelva in southwest Spain and a nearby parador hotel were still unable to return this morning as hundreds of firefighters tackled the out-of-control blaze.

Regional governors said around 2,100 people had been asked to leave their homes and holiday accommodation overnight, although guests at one of the hotels affected - the four-star Solvasa Mazagon Aparthotel - were back this morning.

The blaze is being treated as a level 1 - or maximum threat - by emergency services.


Drone footage shows aftermath of deadly Portugal forest fire which killed at least 62 people (VIDEO)

Portugal forest fire
© Ruptly
Portugal has declared three days of national mourning as the country comes to terms with a devastating fire that swept through the center of the nation, killing at least 62 people and injuring 59 others. This drone footage shows the scale of the devastation:

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes said that many were burned to death in their cars while making desperate attempts to flee.

"This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions," said Valdemar Alves, mayor of Pedrógão Grande. "I am completely stunned by the number of deaths."

The country's prime minister has called it "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years."

Comment: At least 43 people killed in forest fires in central Portugal


At least 43 people killed in forest fires in central Portugal

A wildfire is reflected in a stream at Penela, Coimbra
© Getty
A wildfire is reflected in a stream at Penela, Coimbra
At least 43 people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road.

The deaths happened as blazes rage in the Pedrogao Grande area, about 93 miles north east of Lisbon.

Around 600 firefighters were trying to put out the blazes, which started on Saturday.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes said 16 people died in their cars on a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera and three died from smoke inhalation in Figueiro dos Vinhos.

Public broadcaster RTP said there were about 20 injured, including six firefighters. Fourteen of the injured were in a serious condition.


Study: Wildfires in the U.S. Great Plains have more than tripled in 30 years

Great Plains wildfire increase
© Chris Ray/Texas Highway Patrol via Reuters
Flames are seen along a road in a residential area in Fritch, Tex., in this image taken May 11, 2014. Fritch, located north of Amarillo, is in the southern Great Plains, which stretches into Texas.
The grasslands of U.S. Great Plains have seen one of the sharpest increases in large and dangerous wildfires in the past three decades, with their numbers more than tripling between 1985 and 2014, according to new research.

The new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that the average number of large Great Plains wildfires each year grew from about 33 to 117 over that time period, even as the area of land burned in these wildfires increased by 400 percent.

"This is undocumented and unexpected for this region," said Victoria Donovan, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. "Most studies do document these shifts in large wildfires in forested areas, and this is one of the first that documents a shift, at this scale, in an area characterized as a grassland."

Donovan published the study with two university colleagues. The research looked at large wildfires, defined as fires around 1,000 acres or more in size.

In other parts of the globe, such as Africa's savannas, grassland fires are extremely common — and that used to be true for the Great Plains as well. But in the past century or more, Donovan explained, wildfire suppression techniques — such as rapidly catching fires and putting them out — had largely eradicated them from the region.

Comment: Another factor for this sharp increase could be outgassing, possibly 'sparked' by an increase in atmospheric electric discharge events, such as lightning strikes and other 'cosmic' ignition sources?

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!)


'The whole town is burning': Deaths, mass evacuations as fire sweeps Knysna, South Africa

Fires burn at Buffelsvermaak farm near Knysna, South Africa
© Simone Terblanche / Reuters
Fires burn at Buffelsvermaak farm near Knysna, South Africa June 7, 2017.
Eight people are dead and 10,000 have fled their homes as an enormous fire sweeps through the town of Knysna, South Africa.

Numerous homes have been gutted by the blaze that started on Tuesday and grew rapidly when a storm passed over the Western Cape town.

Western Cape local government spokesman James-Brent Styan confirmed in a statement that up to 10,000 evacuations had taken place in the town of 77,000 residents.

"The fire in Knysna is the largest and most destructive fire in a built-up area in the Western Cape in recent memory with thousands displaced. It comes on the back of the worst storm seen in the Western Cape in at least 30 years," Styan said.

Comment: More on the unfolding South Africa disaster: Storm wreaks havoc in Cape Town, South Africa