Firefighters battle to contain wildfires sweeping through California

Firefighters in California battled Saturday to contain wildfires that have torched hundreds of homes and forced evacuations amid a record-setting heat wave.

The latest destructive fire burned at least 20 homes and threatened hundreds more in the hills above Goleta in Santa Barbara County.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for about 3,000 people as the fire edged into residential areas.

In this photo released Friday, July 6, 2018, by the California Highway Patrol, the Klamathon Fire burns in Hornbrook, Calif. A local California official says a deadly blaze burning near the Oregon border moved swiftly through the rural area that is home to many retirees. Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors chair Ray Haupt says the blaze moved so fast it quickly reached Hornbrook, a community of about 250 people about 14 miles (22 kilometers) south of the Oregon border. Authorities said one person was killed in the fire. (California Highway Patrol via AP)

Photo released Friday, the Klamathon Fire burns in Hornbrook, California.

 (California Highway Patrol via AP)

The blaze, fueled by gusty winds, started with a house fire.

Several other wildfires are burning in Southern California.

In the foothills not far from San Diego, hundreds of residents fled the West Willows community near Alpine, The Los Angeles Times reported. Some of those who fled said they didn’t know whether their homes were still standing

East of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest, authorities ordered the evacuation of the community of Forest Falls, which has about 700 homes, as a quick-moving wildfire swelled to 1,000 acres.

In San Diego County, several fires erupted including one that burned at least five homes and perhaps many more in Alpine, in foothills not far from San Diego. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the county.

At a Red Cross shelter, Ben Stanfill told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he and other relatives helped evacuate his mother’s house, even though it wasn’t in a mandatory evacuation area.

“We just grabbed everything you can’t replace or re-buy,” Stanfill said. “My grandma’s photographs, the cat, my sister’s Mickey Mouse teddy bear she’s had since she was little.”

The fire was only 5 percent contained Friday night, but crews had virtually stopped its growth and were focusing on knocking down hotspots that continue to threatened houses and mobile homes, state fire officials said.

Another fire on the Camp Pendleton Marine base prompted the evacuation of 750 homes.

Firefighters battle flames at the Alpine Oaks Estates mobile home park during a widfire Friday, July 6, 2018, in Alpine, Calif. Gusty winds fanned the flames as Southern California struggles through a scorching heat wave. (Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)

Firefighters battle flames at the Alpine Oaks Estates mobile home park during a wildfire Friday in Alpine, California.

 (Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)

The fires burned as temperatures in some places in California hit triple-digits.

Downtown Los Angeles set a record for July 6 when temperatures reached 95 degrees in the morning and then climbed to 106 degrees shortly before 3 p.m., Reuters reported.

Authorities said that crews fighting a fast-moving Northern California wildfire on Friday discovered the charred remains of a person apparently caught in the flames, Reuters reported.

“We don’t even have an address because of the devastation around the area,” Siskiyou County sheriff’s Lt. Jeremiah LaRue told the San Francisco Chronicle.

He said authorites aren’t expecting to find any more bodies.

“We’re actually pretty hopeful everyone got out,” LaRue said. “We’ve been talking to people who evacuated, and no one’s missing right now, so that’s good.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Latest: Huge Colorado fire keeps 2,500 homes evacuated

The Latest on wildfires burning in the Western United States (all times local):

9:20 a.m.

More than 2,500 homes in Colorado are under evacuation orders as firefighters battle more than a half dozen wildfires around the state.

Most of the evacuations in effect Monday were due to a 78-square-mile (202-square-kilometer) wildfire in southern Colorado that authorities believe was human-caused.

The Costilla County Sheriff’s Office says 52-year-old Jesper Joergensen of Denmark was arrested on arson charges. Investigators haven’t released other details except to say they don’t think he intentionally started the fire.

Immigration officials have requested that they be allowed to take custody of him if he’s released from jail.

About 570 homes are evacuated near a 2-square-mile (6-square-kilometer) fire that started Friday west of Colorado Springs. About 360 children at a camp also had to be evacuated by the Chateau Fire.


9:20 a.m.

Firefighters trying to contain a wildfire burning in southern Wyoming are facing warm and dry weather.

About 150 firefighters are battling the fire burning in the Medicine Bow National Forest near the Colorado border. The fire has burned about 33 square miles (85 square kilometers) since it started June 10.

The fire is about 80 percent contained but it has flared up in the last week, prompting authorities to advise some residents in the area to prepare for evacuation.

But all major highways in the area are open Monday. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


8:50 a.m.

A wildfire burning in hot and dry conditions in Utah has forced the evacuations of a handful of seasonal cabins near a popular fishing reservoir.

Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands said Monday that the fire has scorched about 10 square miles (28 square kilometers) near Strawberry Reservoir.

Curry says the blaze about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southeast of Salt Lake City started Sunday and officials believe it was human-caused but are investigating.

The fire is threatening about seven to 10 cabins that are used as seasonal homes, not primary residences.

He says the fire is expected to grow with hot and dry conditions forecast for Monday. Similar weather is fueling blazes in several Western states.


8:50 a.m.

Officials say a wildfire in Northern California grew dramatically overnight and is largely burning out of control.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the fire northwest of Sacramento scorched at least 70 square miles (180 square kilometers) by Monday morning.

It is threatening 100 buildings and has forced evacuations. It grew from 55 square miles (142 square kilometers) reported Sunday night and is just 3 percent contained.

Cal Fire says strong winds, high temperatures and low humidity are fueling the blaze.

No injuries were reported and the exact number of people evacuated was unclear. Smoke and ash are contributing to poor air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area and California wine country.

Hot, dry conditions are fueling blazes in several Western states.


7:55 a.m.

Hot winds fueling a massive wildfire that prompted evacuations in rural Northern California have pushed the flames into three counties.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday that the blaze that ignited Saturday in western Yolo County spread over the weekend to neighboring Lake and Napa counties.

The fast-moving fire has scorched at least 55 square miles (142 square kilometers) of dry brush and threatened more than 100 buildings in ranchland northwest of Sacramento.

No injuries were reported and the exact number of people evacuated was unclear. Smoke and ash are contributing to poor air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area and California wine country.

It comes as hot, dry conditions are fueling blazes in several Western states.

Northern California wildfires prompt evacuations, burn homes

Hundreds of Northern California homes and businesses were threatened Monday after wind-driven wildfires broke out over the weekend, forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes throughout rural regions north of San Francisco.

The biggest fires continued to grow but there were no reports of injuries or deaths, California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

About 3,000 residents evacuated homes in Lake County, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of San Francisco. A wildfire there that was not contained at all grew to 13 square miles (21 square kilometers) and destroyed at least 22 homes and buildings, the agency reported.

Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said more than 230 firefighters using helicopters, bulldozers and other equipment were battling the Lake County fire in a rugged area that made it difficult to get equipment close the blaze.

“It’s kind of the worst possible combination,” Cox said.

Authorities also ordered residents to evacuate in Tehama County, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of San Francisco, where two wildfires were burning. One grew to 4 square miles (6 square kilometers) while the smaller one of about half a square mile destroyed multiple homes and businesses in the city of Red Bluff.

A Red Bluff police officer helping residents evacuate lost his home to the smaller wildfire, authorities said.

Red Bluff Police Lt. Matt Hansen said Corporal Ruben Murgia’s pregnant wife and three young children were ordered to evacuate their home while he was on duty Saturday when the fire started. The family escaped safely, but lost nearly all of their possessions, Hansen said.

Hansen said about $10,000 in cash along with furniture and clothing has been donated to the family as they search for a rental home.

That fire was under control and nearly extinguished, Cal Fire reported.

Cal Fire said the larger fire was 20 percent contained. A nearby casino was serving as an animal evacuation center.

Residents also fled a wildfire in Shasta County about 300 miles (482 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

No cause has been determined for any of the fires.

Officials said hot weather, high winds and dry conditions are fueling the fires less than a year after California’s costliest fires killed 44 people and tore through the state’s wine country in October, causing an estimated $10 billion in damage.

Downed power lines were blamed for 12 of the two dozen 2017 fires. The causes of the other fires are under investigation.

While the blazes were the first major blazes of the season to hit California, others have raged throughout the west for weeks. Last week, a Colorado wildfire forced residents of more than 1,000 homes to evacuate and led to warnings for others to get ready to leave.

The fire 13 miles (43 kilometers) north of Durango was in the Four Corners Region where Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah meet — the epicenter of a large U.S. Southwest swath of exceptional drought, the worst category of drought.

Moderate to extreme drought conditions affect larger areas of those four states plus parts of Nevada, California, Oregon, Oklahoma and Texas, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.


This story has been corrected to reflect that a wildfire of less than a square mile destroyed multiple homes and businesses and that the larger wildfire of 4 square miles (6 square kilometers) did not.

Growing wildfires prompt evacuations in rural California

Wind-driven wildfires destroyed buildings and threatened hundreds of others Sunday as they raced across dry brush in rural Northern California.

The Pawnee Fire that broke out Saturday near the community of Clearlake Oaks has destroyed 12 buildings and threatened an additional 600 as it burned out of control across about 12 square miles (31 sq. kilometers). Authorities ordered people to evacuate all homes in the Spring Valley area, where about 3,000 people live.

“What we’re stressing is that people, when they get the evacuation order, they heed it immediately and get out and stay out until it is safe to return,” state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said. “This is one of four large fires burning in Northern California. It’s a good reminder that fire season is upon us.”

Erratic wind and heat gripping a swath of California from San Jose to the Oregon border drove the flames, which were north of the wine country region where devastating wildfires killed 44 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses last October.

Farther north, a fire spanning about three-quarters of a mile in Tehama County destroyed “multiple residential and commercial buildings,” Cal Fire said. But firefighters appeared to be making good progress — the Stoll Fire was halfway contained and some evacuees were allowed to return home, authorities said.

A second fire in Tehama County consumed 5.5 square miles (14 square kilometers), but no buildings were reported burned. The so-called Lane Fire threatened 200 structures and some homes had been evacuated, Cox said. It was 10 percent contained.

A fire in neighboring Shasta County grew to 1.6 square miles (4.14 sq. kilometers) and was 20 percent contained. The so-called Creek Fire had damaged no structures but did prompt evacuations.

The cause of each blaze was under investigation Sunday. No one was reported hurt.

More than 230 firefighters using helicopters, bulldozers and other equipment were battling the Pawnee Fire in a rugged area that made it difficult to get equipment up close.

“It’s kind of the worst possible combination,” Cox said.

Matthew Henderson, who was in the area taking photographs, said he saw the fire jump a road at one point, briefly cutting off access to part of Spring Valley until firefighters pushed it back.

Not just heat: Climate change signs can be seen all around

You don’t just feel the heat of global warming, you can see it in action all around.

Some examples of where climate change’s effects have been measured:

—Glaciers across the globe are melting and retreating, with 279 billion tons of ice lost since 2002, according to NASA’s GRACE satellite. Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland is flowing faster than any other glacier on Earth. In 2012, it hit a record pace of about 75 inches per hour (1.9 meters). In 2017, it slowed down to 40 inches per hour (1 meter). The Portage Glacier in Alaska has retreated so much it cannot be seen from the visitor center that opened in 1986.

—In the Rocky Mountains, the first robins of spring are arriving 10.5 days earlier than 30 years ago. The first larkspur wildflower is showing up eight days earlier and the marmots are coming out of hibernation five days earlier, according to data gathered by the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab.

—On average, during the past 30 years there have been more major hurricanes (those with winds of more than 110 mph), they have lasted longer and they produced more energy than the previous 30 years, according to an Associated Press analysis of storm data. Other studies have shown that the first named storm in the Atlantic forms nearly a month earlier than 30 years ago and storms are moving slower, allowing more rain to fall.

—Across the globe, seas have risen about 3 inches since 1993. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is enough to cover the entire United States in water about 9 feet deep. Places like Miami Beach, Florida, and Norfolk, Virginia, flood frequently with high tides.

—The number of acres burned in the U.S. by wildfire has doubled compared with 30 years ago. Last year, more than 10 million acres burned. Over the last five years, an average of 6.7 million acres burned a year. From 1984 to 1988, about 2.8 million years burned, on average.

—Allergies have gotten worse with longer growing seasons and more potent pollen. High ragweed pollen days have increased by between 15 and 29 days since 1990 in a swath of the country from Oklahoma City north to Winnipeg, Canada, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study.

—In the western United States the cute rodent called a pika needs weather around freezing for most of the year. But those habitats are shrinking, forcing them to higher altitudes. University of Colorado’s Chris Ray, a pika expert, said she hasn’t definitively linked climate change to dramatic reductions in pika populations, but she found that they have disappeared more from places that are warming and drying.

—Extreme one-day rainfall across the nation has increased 80 percent over the past 30 years. Ellicott City, Maryland, had so-called thousand-year floods in 2016 and this year. Flooding in Louisiana, West Virginia and Houston in 2016, South Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma in 2015, Michigan and parts of the Northeast in 2014 all caused more than $1 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

—The number of polar bears in parts of Alaska dropped 40 percent since the late 1990s. When scientists have weighed polar bears recently in certain locations they were losing 2.9 to 5.5 pounds per day at a time of year when they were supposed to be putting on weight.

—Warmer water is repeatedly causing mass global bleaching events to Earth’s fragile coral reefs. Before 1998 there had been no global mass bleaching events — which turn the living coral white and often lead to death. But there have been three in the last two decades. U.S. government coral reef specialist Mark Eakin said for multiple reasons, including global warming, “most of the reefs that were in great shape in the 1980s in Florida are just barely hanging on now.”


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.