California firefighters tackle a dozen large forest fires | Ap-top-news



MATHER, Calif. (AP) – More than 13,500 firefighters were working Monday to contain a dozen large California wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee to safety.

After a thorough review of the fire damage, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for a presidential declaration of major disaster for eight counties, Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services, said at a briefing near Sacramento.

If approved, the declaration will provide a wide range of aid, including housing, food aid, unemployment and government emergency costs, Ghilarducci said.

Nearly 43,000 Californians were under evacuation orders and more than 500 households were in shelters, he said.

New concerns were growing at the explosive Caldor Fire southwest of Lake Tahoe, the famous alpine lake straddling the California-Nevada border and surrounded by Sierra Nevada peaks and resort communities.

The Caldor fire, which was only 9% contained, has become the nation’s number one priority for firefighting resources, said Chief Thom Porter, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“He’s knocking on the door to the Lake Tahoe Basin,†Porter said. “We have every effort in place to keep it out of the basin, but we also need to be aware that this is a possibility based on how the fires burned.”

Porter said he didn’t personally believe the fire would enter the basin, but he could be wrong.

The Caldor Fire incinerated nearly 180 square miles (466 square kilometers) of El Dorado National Forest and ongoing assessments have shown 447 buildings destroyed. More than 17,000 structures were still threatened.

Two police officers from the town of Galt, Sacramento County, were in critical condition after a head-on collision as they made their way to the Caldor blaze as part of a mutual aid deployment of forces from the order, said Ghilarducci.

To the north, containment rose to 40% at the Dixie Fire, which burned more than 1,130 square miles (2,926 square kilometers) in the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades. Ongoing assessments have shown 1,259 buildings destroyed, including 678 single-family homes, Cal Fire said. Nearly 13,000 structures remained threatened.

In Nevada, public schools in the Reno and Sparks area and parts of Lake Tahoe were closed Monday due to smoke from the wildfires, affecting 67,000 students.

In northern California, where most fires are burning, there were no red flag warnings for critical conditions, but the seven-day outlook called for moderate fire danger. Meanwhile, in Southern California, moist ocean air kept skies cloudy and temperatures cooler than normal for much of the day.

Porter said this meant there was little potential for major new fires in southern California, allowing firefighting resources to be augmented from south to north.

While Southern California has so far escaped large-scale wildfires this year, Los Angeles officials on Monday urged residents to be aware of what is happening in the north as peak season for Fires in the area are usually late in the year when the dry, gusty winds from Santa Ana blow out of the interior and move toward the coast.

“This awareness is going to help us when it happens here in Southern California,” Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said during a briefing to introduce the firefighting helicopter fleet. the city to Van Nuys airport.

The mix of spring growth dried up by the summer heat and high winds creates “a dangerous condition that could lead to large, rapid brush fires,” he said.

The fires in California were among more than 90 large fires active in the United States on Monday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

In Oregon, officials said a firefighter died Monday while fighting a wildfire southeast of Eugene.

Bryan Cutchen, Oakridge City Administrator and Acting Fire Chief, said the death was believed to have been caused by a tree falling on the firefighter, The Register-Guard reported.

Climate change has made the West hotter and drier over the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and forest fires more destructive, scientists say.

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