Wind and lightning threaten efforts to contain California’s Dixie fire

Thousands of homes in northern Kalifornië remain threatened by the largest US wildfire as unstable weather creates a high danger of new blazes across the west.

Weekend thunderstorms across the northern Sierra did not produce much rain, instead whipping up winds and unleashing lightning that bedeviled the more than 6,000 firefighters trying to contain the month-old Dixie fire amid temperatures forecast to top 100F (38C).

“We’re definitely still dealing with the possibility of lightning. Winds are all over the place. Things are going to be pretty unstable for the next couple days,” said fire spokesman Edwin Zuniga.

Gusts of up to 50mph (80km/h) on Saturday pushed flames closer to Janesville, a town of about 1,500 just east of Greenville, a small gold rush-era community that was burned 10 days ago.

Climate change has made the US west warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, volgens wetenskaplikes.

The Dixie fire was the largest among more than 100 big blazes in more than a dozen states in the west, a region seared by drought and hot weather that turned forests, brushlands, meadows and pastures into tinder.

The US Forest Service said it is operating in crisis mode, fully deploying firefighters and maxing out its support system. The roughly 21,000 federal firefighters working on the ground is more than double the number sent to contain forest fires at this time a year ago, said Anthony Scardina, a deputy forester for the agency’s Pacific south-west region.

The Dixie fire has ravaged nearly 867 sq miles, an area the size of Tokyo or more than twice the size of Indianapolis. Dit was 31% contained on Sunday.

Meer as 1,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed and nearly 15,000 structures were still under threat from the Dixie fire, whose cause has not been determined. Pacific Gas and Electric has said it may have been sparked when a tree fell on its power line.

A few hundred miles to the south, evacuations were ordered after a blaze that broke out the night before churned through California forestland near the remote community of Omo Ranch. There was no containment of the Caldor fire burning in El Dorado county, oor 60 miles east of Sacramento.

A small wildfire that blew up on Saturday east of Salt Lake City, temporarily shutting down Interstate 80 and leading to evacuation orders for some 8,000 residences, was caused by a vehicle with a malfunctioning catalytic converter, Utah Fire Info said. The Parleys Canyon Fire calmed significantly and homes were no longer threatened, amptenare gesê.

In south-eastern Montana, firefighters gained ground on a pair of blazes that chewed through vast rangelands and at one point threatened the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Those fires were caused by heat from coal seams, the deposits of coal found in the ground in the area, said Peggy Miller, a spokeswoman for the fires.

Mandatory evacuations for the tribal headquarters town of Lame Deer remained in place for those with medical conditions, and heavy smoke made air quality unhealthy across much of Montana, according to the state department of environmental quality.

Smoke also drove air pollution levels to unhealthy or very unhealthy levels in parts of northern California, Oregon and Idaho.

Kommentaar gesluit.