SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Firefighters worked against a wildfire Sunday that burned over 700 acres of brush in a rugged area of Santa Barbara County near popular campsites and swimming holes.

The Rancho Fire, which started around 6 p.m. Saturday, was 50 percent contained Sunday morning, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Robert Rainwater said.

About 320 firefighters clamored over rocks and boulders to reach the brush burning along rugged canyon walls some seven miles northwest of Santa Barbara, as temperatures reached the high 80s and humidity levels dropped, he said.

"Once the temperatures get that high and the humidity gets low, it's a touchy situation," Rainwater said.

The blaze had shut down some campsites, but no residents in the area had been ordered to leave their homes, he said. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Meanwhile, the White Fire south of the San Joaquin Valley was 90 percent contained after burning through 12,400 acres of brush and destroying 12 homes, said fire spokesman Shawn Sternick.

Investigators continued to seek the cause of the blaze, which may be connected to all-terrain vehicles seen in the area on June 24 when the fire started, Sternick said.

An evacuation order on dozens of nearby residents was lifted Friday, officials said.

Wildfire Burns in Northern Arizona

July 1st, 2007 @ 5:06pm

by Associated Press

A wildfire burning in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in northern Arizona is believed to be lightning-caused.

The Chitty fire has burned more than 750 acres. The burned acreage according to the feds also includes burnout operations conducted last night.

Highway 191 is open but travel is discouraged since the road could be closed at any time and visibility is poor due to heavy smoke.

So far, there's zero containment.

About 140 firefighters, including five Hotshot crews, are working to stop the fire from spreading.

The terrain is steep and rugged. The fire is burning in ponderosa pine, pinyon pine, juniper and grass.

Crews have air tankers available to douse hot spots.


Round Top Butte (Burns District, BLM): 9,870 acres at 25 percent contained. This fire is 45 miles west of Burns and is burning in brush and grass. Minimal fire activity was reported.
Information: Visit the Inciweb site or call 541-573-4519

Egley Complex (Burns Fire Zone, Malheur National Forest): 3,000 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is 10 miles north of Riley and is burning in timber litter. Extreme fire behavior with short range spotting was observed.
Information: Visit the Inciweb site or call 541-573-4519

Bartlett Mountain (Burns District, BLM): 20,000 acres at 50 percent contained. This fire is 37 miles northeast of Burns and is burning in brush and grass. Structures remain threatened. No further information was received.
Information: Visit the Inciweb site or call 541-573-4519

NEW Calamity Complex(Malheur National Forest): 1,000 acres at zero percent contained. This complex (6 fires) is 16 miles southeast of Seneca and is burning in timber and grass. Plume dominated the fire behavior with spotting. Structures are threatened.

As of 11:00 p.m., PDT, July 7: Two incidents within the 6 fire Calamity Complex burned actively throughout the day and evening. The two fires spread mostly east through timber, grass, and understory, and eventually burned together, totaling approximately 600 acres. The now-single incident has been named the Grapple Fire and is estimated at 0% contained. Other fires within the Calamity Complex were mostly contained by this evening. Extreme fire behavior was reported this afternoon, forcing firefighters away from the perimeter for a period. Cattle, some developed Federal campgrounds, and a few outbuildings and primary residences are threatened. No evacuations are necessary at this time and no damages have been reported. Some threat to private lands to the west and east also exists.

As of 4:00 p.m., PDT, July 7: A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been ordered to manage the Calamity Complex. The team is expected to take assignment early tomorrow morning and will likely be stationed in the town of Seneca, Oregon. The Calamity Complex has two main fires burning actively at this point, both nearing 100 acres each.

As of 2:45 p.m., PDT, July 7: The Calamity Complex is being managed by Malheur Dispatch (John Day, Oregon). Updates on these incidents will be less frequent, but available at minimum twice daily (morning and late evening).

As of 7:30 a.m., PDT, July 7: Six wildfires in the Calamity Butte area, approximately 20 miles northwest of Burns, Oregon, were discovered late yesterday and early this morning. One fire is a mile south of Calamity Fire Lookout while the rest are between 2-5 miles north of there. The complex is estimated to have burned at least 50 acres. Livestock, some outbuildings and recreational cabins, and public and private lands are threatened. There is no estimate for containment on these incidents as of now.

Information: Visit the Inciweb site or call 541-573-4519

NEW Ironside (Vale District, BLM): 215 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is 10 miles southwest of Ironside and is burning in timber litter. Running and torching was observed.

NEW Clark Butte (Vale District, BLM): 21,000 acres at 20 percent contained. This fire is 20 miles west of Jordan Valley and is burning in grass. Extreme fire behavior was reported.

NEW Millican East (Prineville District, BLM): 640 acres at 30 percent contained. This fire is 24 miles south of Prineville and is burning in grass. Moderate fire activity with torching was observed.

NEW Saddle Butte (Vale District, BLM): 2,400 acres at zero percent contained. This fire is 50 miles south of Nyssa and is burning in brush and grass. No further information was received.

NEW West Fall (Vale District, BLM): 850 acres at unknown percent contained. This fire is 2 miles north of West Fall and is burning in grass and sage. Running fire was reported.

NEW Jim Lee (Vale District, BLM): 300 acres at unknown percent contained. This fir4e is 10 miles southwest of Westfall and is burning in grass. No further information was received.


7-10-07 -

Here is a video from the Bend Station about fires,

Hwy 20 was closed this morning at 6 when I was going to drive on it. It is open now. They also talked about evacuating Hines on the radio then.

 We went up to John Day to try to go to Prineville that way but it got too late for an appointment and we were told to turn around.

Hwy 31 is closed among others.

There were hundreds of fire trucks on the road on 395. Hundreds of firefighters camping up in Seneca. I believe there are hundreds of firefighters at the Fairgrounds in Burns too.

We also had a cute deer cross the road in Canyon City

Egley Complex


The Egley fire has now grown to  94 748 acres   with 1735 fire fighters here. It looks like a war zone or something with all their tents down at the Fairgrounds.

The main fires are the Bear Canyon fire by Emigrant Creek. It has sent a giant cloud of smoke here. It is roughly 30-40 miles away I think. It is also burning out of control and starting new things from what I understand. 15-17000 acres I think

Another big fire is the Silver Fire south of  Delintment lake where some of my camping places are. There is a lot of old growth and big Ponderosa Pine trees in those areas. it is 40-50 miles out of town. I think it is 15-17 000 acres.

There is supposedly another fire up along the 47 road only 9 miles out of town that also is burning- Willow Flat I think it is called.

There are many other fires too but these are the ones closest to us here.

We went out to Riley today to look at the fire. It has burnt down to the highway a couple of miles past the Wild horse Corrals and up to Sagehen where it jumped the highway before the rest area. The highway was red from fire retardants. There are lots of black hills there along the highway and you can see the smoke coming up up in the mountains.

This is what it looks like up in the mountains where the fires hopefully are not burning see below:


 Photo courtesy of Karin Stenious. 7-14-07

7-16-07 - The Egely fire complex has now grown to 101 000 acres. The Egely fire itself is down to a mop up state now according to the radio. What is still burning heavy is the Silver Fire and the  Bear Canyon fire. 21 200 acres.  They are trying to keep it west of the 47 road to Izzee. 5 homes up by Yellowjacket Lake have been evacuated. One of them belongs to McDonald’s , who started PetCo.

We have 1832 firefighters here now.

It is the timber that is still burning heavy. Not the sagebrush. Our camping places and firewood. Wonder how much wildlife have and burnt  and sheep, cattle etc???????

The other big fire is Silver Fire. They have concentrated on saving Allison Guard Station up by Delintment Lake. It is 24 300 acres I think.

They have been doing burn outs.

The fires have been between Hwy20 and the 47 road.

They are expecting to have them all contained by Thursday. Hopefully this will be over soon.

It surprises people that local contractors with cats and heavy equipment who are good at taking out fires have not been called in to help with these fires. Many are very angry here about such things and how the forests are managed or not managed depending on your point of view and values.

Last year we got twice as much rain as usual and the grass grow. There were not enough animals out there in the mountains to eat it all. It has been a  good fuel for the fires.



General Info
Status Active 
Lead Agency BLM 
Location 10 miles N of Riley 
Latitude 43° 35' 53" (43.5981)   Longitude 119° 26' 48" (-119.4467)  
Fire Start Date 2007-07-06 
Acres 30000.00 
Square Miles 46.88 
Percent Contained 3 
Threatened Structures 147 
Expected Containment 2007-07-07 
Cause Lightning 
More Info This complex of fires showed no signs of slowing yesterday. Several of the fires within the complex grew together and spread rapidly with late afternoon and evening winds. 

Status A large portion of the Malheur National Forest has been closed to the public. Call for detailed closure information. 541-573-4519. As the fire continues to grow, residents in the Burns and Hines communities remain threatened. Highway 20 has been o 

Total People 512 
Crw-1* 3 
Crw-2** 12 
Helicopter 1 
Fire Engines 27 
Team Type*** 2 
Fuels Timber, plantation trees, 
Terrain Medium 

Safety Extremely dry conditions and wind. Fires are located in the old Pine Springs Basin Burn, heavy ground fuels, continuous grass and brush vegetation. Grazing allottments, high recreation, and private lands. 

This Info Updated 2007-07-10 


Gusty afternoon winds concern
Wildfire Update: Crews contain 40 percent of 350,000-acre Milford Flat Fire
By Greg Lavine
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 07/12/2007 09:56:11 AM MDT

KANOSH - Buoyed by fresh crews, an army of more than 500 firefighters have contained 40 percent of the 350,000-acre Milford Flats Fire.

    The lightning-sparked southcentral Utah blaze gained roughly 10,000 acres overnight, making minor advances on its northeast and southeast perimeters. But high humidity helped dampen flames, fire managers said.

    Jill Ivie, a spokeswoman for the Fire Incident Management command, said the dry lightning that was feared from an overnight storm failed to materialize.

    "We haven't seen relative humidity over 40 percent in a while now," she said, noting the moisture level reached 46 percent as thunderstorms moved into the region.

    However, more afternoon winds today could give the 536 firefighters on the scene difficulty. Crews are concerned that the gusts could cause hot spots to flare anew, or fan embers across fire lines along the blaze's eastern edge.

    Federal officials have budgeted $12 million to fight the Milford Flat wildfire, though fire managers hope to use significantly less of that money.

    Still, the way things are going, it could be a long and expensive summer, said Utah State Forester Dick Buhler. There are 14 wildfires burning in the eastern Great Basin alone.

    "In my 34 years in this profession, these are the worst fire conditions I've
seen," he said. "Extremely low humidity, triple digit temperatures, winds, and very dry fuels.

  West Under Highest Wildfire Alert


In this photo provided by the National Park Service, a view of a wildfire burning in Zion National Park in Utah, is seen from Lava Point Lookout Wednesday, July 18, 2007. (AP Photo/National Park Service)
Wind-whipped fire from the Marge Fire nears a residence at Maggie Creek Ranch near Elko, Nev., Wednesday, July 18, 2007. (AP Photo/Elko Daily Free Press, Ross Andreson).



Jul 19, 4:28 PM (ET)


BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The nation's wildfire preparedness was raised to its highest level Thursday as dozens of new fires started in the bone-dry West, including a rapidly growing blaze on the grounds of the Idaho National Laboratory.

The West had been at level four for only a few weeks when officials decided to raise it to level five, effective Thursday.

"It's driven by a couple of things: The number of large fires we have, and also the fires are occurring in several states and in several geographic areas," said Randy Eardley, a spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center. "The resources we have are being stretched thin."

The change allows fire managers to request help from international crews, and National Guard units could be mobilized. On Thursday, fire center spokesman Ken Frederick said new crews were arriving in the Pacific Northwest from Alaska and the Southeast.


Firefighters in the area critically need medium-sized helicopters, he said. With 23 uncontained large fires or fire complexes in Nevada, Utah and Idaho, there aren't enough contractor-supplied helicopters to go around, he said.

About 15,000 U.S. firefighters were already battling nearly 70 fires bigger than 100 acres in 12 states.

Dry lightning has sparked dozens of new blazes in the West including more than 1,000 new fires since Monday, Eardley said.

Thursday morning brought slightly lower temperatures in the Northwest, Frederick said, but the break wasn't expected to last long. Dry, windy weather, temperatures over 100 and thunderstorms were forecast for the next seven days, he said.

A new wildfire that started Wednesday evening on the Idaho National Laboratory grounds quickly swept across nearly 15 square miles, 9,500 acres, of sagebrush and grassland at the 890-square-mile nuclear research area in the southeast Idaho desert. Its cause was not known, said John Epperson, an INL spokesman.

No INL facilities were in immediate danger, but the lab's 700 employees in the building nearest the fire were told to stay home Thursday.

Fire crews set a backburn to keep the fire from spokesman Ethan Huffman said late Wednesday night. The blaze was about 10 percent contained.

The nearest INL facility is the Materials and Fuels Complex, roughly five miles northeast of the edge of the fire and on the other side of the highway. Huffman described the complex as an area of research in nuclear reactor fuel development. He said the metal-roofed complex was surrounded by vast sand buffers and the wildfire posed no danger to it.

In southwestern Utah, the backcountry of Zion National Park was closed because of the threat of wildfires. Two new large fires were reported in the state, in addition to three already burning on about 640 square miles of grass, sage and timber.

Southeast of Boise, a fire was burning on nearly 4 square miles of grass and brush-covered Bureau of Land Management property. Though still relatively small, the lightning-sparked fire was racing toward Danskin Mountain where fire managers feared it would threaten lookout towers and other buildings, bureau spokeswoman Jessica Gardetto said.


In Nevada, one wildfire threatened hundreds of homes on the edge of Reno but weather and wind conditions there were improving Thursday. It was about 15 percent contained.

The small town of Jarbidge, nestled in a tight canyon near the Idaho line, was evacuated because authorities feared its 40 residents wouldn't be able to escape if a forest fire nearby cut off access.

"Our decision last night was to move them out while we could," Elko County Sheriff Dale Lotspeich said Thursday. "The bottom line is, if the fire goes into the canyon, the likelihood that it can be stopped is slim to none."

The largest wildfire in Oregon, near Burns, had grown to more than 200 square miles and was threatening a handful of homes, officials said.

Utah was so dry that some communities banned traditional July 24 fireworks that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints normally shoot off to celebrate the 1847 arrival of Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.

In Southern California, authorities were trying to stop a 43-square-mile wildfire from spreading toward about 50 scattered homes in Los Padres National Forest in the interior of Santa Barbara County. In Northern California, overnight drizzle helped firefighters battling flames that threatened more than 300 homes in and around Happy Camp near the Oregon border.

Fires in eastern Washington eased Wednesday when thunderstorms brought welcome rain, allowing some firefighters to be redeployed. Skies were overcast Thursday, and many evacuation orders were canceled.

Yellowstone fire increases in size


The Owl fire in Yellowstone National Park doubled in size to 60 acres Friday into Saturday.

The lightning-caused fire is in Montana, south of Specimen Creek. It is burning about three miles east of U.S. Highway 191 in a lodgepole forest west of an area burned in the 1988 fires.

The fire was active Saturday, according to park officials, with torching on single and small groups of trees. It started a small spot fire about a quarter mile ahead of the main fire. It is burning away from roads and developed areas and not a threat to people.

Crews are working to confine and contain the fire because of hot, dry conditions and its location. Firefighters on the ground are helping direct helicopters to make water bucket drops to slow the fire and direct it toward terrain where a containment line can be built. They are also protecting the historic Daley Creek patrol cabin. The Gallatin National Forest provided a helicopter and a seven-person initial-attack hand crew to work with park firefighters and a helicopter the park contracted.

Some trails and backcountry campsites in the area are closed. Visitors should call the YNP Backcountry Office at 307-344-2160 for information.

Published on Sunday, July 22, 2007.
Last modified on 7/22/2007 at 3:14 am

State of emergency declared as wildfires spread

HELENA, MONTANA - A state of emergency was declared in Montana on Sunday because of wildfires, including one that more than doubled in size and crept to within a mile of some of the 200 nearby homes that were evacuated.

Lighter wind and higher humidity were expected at the fire northeast of Missoula on Sunday, and the wind was largely blowing the blaze back onto itself, said Pat Cross, fire information officer.

However, windblown embers still were sparking spot fires up to 2 miles ahead of the main blaze near the popular getaway spots of Seeley and Placid Lakes, authorities said.

Relentless Calif. wildfire keeps growing, now nearly 215,000 acres

Dozens of ranch properties were put on alert as the 1½-month-old Zaca wildfire raged Monday in Los Padres National Forest backcountry, while to the west a new fire on the central coast shut down part of Highway 1, authorities said.

A fleet of aircraft, including a DC-10 that can swoop in with 12,000 gallons of fire retardant, made sorties over the Zaca Fire. The 215,692-acre blaze, equivalent to 337 square miles, was 77% surrounded, with full containment not expected until Sept. 7.

The new blaze erupted on the west side of Highway 1 south of Lompoc and was blown east across 250 acres toward wineries and ranches, said Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Michael Burke.

The fire was 50% contained by evening but residents on a rural road off the highway were warned to be ready to evacuate. A firefighter was treated for a minor injury.

Full containment was expected Tuesday evening, Burke said, and the cause of the blaze was under investigation.

The Zaca blaze erupted July 4 and has become the third-largest wildfire in California history as it has marched eastward through a vast swath of rugged wilderness in the interior of Santa Barbara County toward neighboring Ventura County.

The 3,162 firefighters on the ground face rugged terrain, temperatures in the 90s and extremely low humidity levels. The area hasn't burned in 75 to 100 years, fire bosses said.

"The fuel conditions are extreme. The chaparral we're working with is literally explosive," said incident commander Mike Dietrich of the U.S. Forest Service.

As a precaution, residents on 30 to 40 ranches off Highway 33 in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties were advised to move large animals out of the area and be prepared to get out.

"They are trying to corral the fire away from them," fire spokesman Victor Gutierrez said Monday, noting firefighters were using backfires to eliminate fuel and starve flames.

A 45-mile stretch of Highway 33 was closed from Wheeler Gorge, north of Ojai, to the mountain hamlet of Ventucopa.

The fire was still 17 air miles north of the Ventura County community of Ojai and 10 miles east of Montecito and Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County, Gutierrez said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Sunday for Ventura County, clearing the way for state government cost assistance.

Sparks from equipment being used to repair a water pipe ignited the blaze north of Los Olivos on July 4. Firefighting costs have exceeded $85 million.

The state's biggest wildfire was the 2003 Cedar Fire near San Diego, which burned more than 273,000 acres, destroyed 4,847 structures and killed 15 people.

In 1932, the Matilija Fire burned about 220,000 acres in the Los Padres National Forest, near the current Zaca blaze.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Aug 27, 12:44 PM (ET)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - A helicopter swooped into a village in southern Greece to rescue residents trapped by flames on Monday - one of dozens of fires that have torn through village and forest across the country, leaving blackened landscape in their wake.

The fires have killed 63 people over four days, destroying everything in their path. One broke out on the fringe of Athens Monday, but was quickly brought under control. Another scorched the woodland around the birthplace of the Olympics.

A woman found dead on Friday with her arms around the bodies of four children had fled her home - the only house left standing in the village, said a neighbor in the Peloponnese town of Artemida. The home's white walls and red tile roof were unscathed.

"Nothing would have happened to them. The few that stayed didn't get injured, but most people left to escape, everyone, and only two or three stayed behind," said the neighbor, Vassiliki Tzevelekou.

A helicopter airlifted five people to safety on Monday from the village of Prasidaki in southern Greece, said fire department spokesman Yiannis Stamoulis. Another was sent to the village of Frixa.

Fueled by strong, hot winds and parched grass and trees, the fires have engulfed villages, forests and farmland. New blazes broke out faster than others could be brought under control.

"The whole village is burning. It's been burning for three days," one woman sobbed, clutching her 20-month-old daughter as they sheltered in a church along with dozens of others near Figalia, elsewhere in the western Peloponnese.

Dimitris Papangelopoulos, who is responsible for prosecuting terrorism and organized crime, ordered an investigation to determine "whether the crimes of arsonists and of arson attacks on forests" could come under Greece's anti-terrorism law, the Public Order Ministry said.

Forest fires are common during Greece's hot, dry summers - but nothing has approached the scale of the past three days.

"So many fires breaking out simultaneously in so many parts of the country cannot be a coincidence," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in a nationally televised address on Saturday.

Several people have been arrested on suspicion of arson since Friday, although some were accused of starting fires through negligence rather than intent. One man, however, was charged with arson and homicide in connection with a fire near the southern town of Areopolis on Friday that killed six people.

Building on forest land is forbidden in Greece, but unscrupulous developers are blamed for setting fires to forests in an effort to circumvent the law by disputing the area's status. Greece has no land registry, so once a region has been burned and cleared, there is no definitive proof of whether it was initially forest, farm or field.

"It is rather late now, but the state should designate these areas to be immediately reforested, map them and complete the forest registry without further delay," said Yiannis Revythis, chairman of the association of Athens real estate agents.

The destruction has infuriated Greeks - already stunned by deadly forest fires in June and July. Outraged residents heckled Culture Minister George Voulgarakis Sunday when he visited Ancient Olympia to see the firefighting efforts.

"The government was totally unable to deal with this situation," said Gerassimos Kaproulias, an Ancient Olympia schoolteacher.

From Sunday morning to Monday morning alone, 89 new fires broke out, fire department spokesman Nikos Diamandis said.

"This is an immense ecological disaster," said Theodota Nantsou, WWF Greece Conservation Manager. "We had an explosive mixture of very adverse weather conditions, tinder-dry forests - to an extent not seen for many years - combined with the wild winds of the past two weeks. It's a recipe to burn the whole country."

The government appealed for help from abroad, and 19 countries were sending planes, helicopters and firefighters, including France, which dispatched four water-tanker planes and Russia, which was sending three helicopters and an amphibian plane.

The fires hit during the traditional August holidays when villages across Greece are filled with people Athens and other large cities returning to their ancestral areas.

Desperate residents appealed through television stations for help from a firefighting service already stretched to the limit. The government declared a state of emergency on Saturday.

The worst of the fires are concentrated in the mountains of the Peloponnese in the south and on the island of Evia north of Athens. Strong winds blew smoke and ash over the capital, blackening the evening sky and turning the rising moon red.

In the ravaged mountain villages in the Peloponnese, rescue crews found a grim scene that spoke of last-minute desperation as the fires closed in. Dozens of charred bodies have been found across fields, homes, along roads and in cars.

Weekend wildfires also killed two elderly people in neighboring Bulgaria, officials said Monday. They died in a fire that burned down their house in the southern village of Prisadets, said Darina Stamatova, spokeswoman of the regional administration.

An Associated Press photographer on the scene said almost all houses in the villages of Prisadets, Varnik and Filipovo were destroyed by the flames.

A blistering hot summer has led to more than a thousand wildfires across Bulgaria in the past three months burning down 84,000 acres of forests and farm fields, the government said.

Associated Press writers John F.L. Ross in Ancient Olympia and Nicholas Paphitis in Athens contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS the name of the neighbor to Vassiliki Tzevelekou.)

Idaho fire continues to threaten homes

Thousand homes in Ketchum area remain evacuated; red flag warning posted.

Firefighters stage burn out
operations on Castle Rock fire in Idaho.
Credit: Mike Powell


BOISE, Idaho | August 26, 200


Residents in the Ketchum area remained out their homes Sunday after a mandatory evacuation order was issued as the Castle Rock wildfire surged and continued to burn closer to homes. A red flag warning was posted Sunday for the fire area.

Firefighters were reported to be "actively defending" some houses from the blaze. Officials said public schools in the Wood River Valley would be closed Monday and Tuesday due to the fire. Snowmaking equipment at the Sun Valley resort was pressed into service to protect the ski area and the multimillion dollar Seattle Ridge Lodge as flames spread up Bald Mountain.

The evacuation order was issued Saturday night for about 1,000 homes south of Ketchum. It comes on top of a previous evacuation order for about 100 homes, including some in the trendy Sun Valley resort community. An emergency shelter was opened in Hailey and was being staffed by the American Red Cross.

In California, meantime, a "recommended evacuation" order for about 20 homes in Ventura County was lifted Monday as containment on the Zaca wildfire reached 90 percent. Officials also reopened Highway 33.

The fire, which has burned 240,207 acres, was still expected to be fully contained by Sept. 7. The number of firefighters battling the blaze dropped to about 2,000, down from the more than 3,000 at the height of the effort. The fire has been burning in the backcountry wilderness area since July 4. The cost of fighting the fire has surpassed $104 million.

In Idaho, meantime, the lightning-sparked Castle Rock fire grew to 41,000 acres and pushed by gusty winds continued to threaten homes. It was being fought by 1,400 firefighters. The fire was 38 percent contained.

Meantime, voluntary evacuations remained in place for the Idaho communities of Secesh, Warren and South Fork still threatened by the East Zone Complex of four fires. The fire, started by lightning July 7 northeast of McCall, has burned nearly 205,000 acres and was 10 percent contained.

The largest fire in the state remained the Cascade Complex of three fires, which has charred more than 226,000 acres since it started July 17. The fire, burning southeast of Cascade, was 23 percent contained.

Elsewhere across the nation, more than three dozen large wildfires were burning, more than half of them in Idaho and Montana, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise reported.

In Montana, where most evacuation orders have been lifted, firefighters continued to battle about 16 wildfires.

The largest of the blazes was the nearly 100,000-acre Chippy Creek fire southwest of Kalispell. That fire was 70 percent contained with full containment expected Monday. Some evacuations remained in place with 350 residences threatened.

The Ahorn fire, started by lightning July 11, has charred 47,000 acres and was 10 percent contained. The fire was burning 30 miles west of Augusta and some pre-evacuations were in place for the Gibson Reservoir, Stoner, and Benchmark areas.

A mandatory evacuation order has been is

Wildfires rage in bone-dry California



A fire Tuesday quickly blackened almost 300 acres of Crown Butte, but property owners and fire officials were not complaining afterward.

Two cabins, and a preserve located on top, went untouched. That was good news, considering the blaze was threatening to jump the prairie landmark and make a run toward Simms.

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters worked to contain several wildfires burning throughout California Wednesday amid hopes that cooler temperatures expected in the coming days would help them get a handle on the blazes.

The fires flared up over the weekend, when temperatures surged past 110 degrees in some parts of the state, creating tinder-like conditions in areas already starved of water by an unusually dry winter.

More than 1,200 firefighters in Northern California's Henry W. Coe State Park battled an 11,000-acre wildfire that forced rangers to evacuate hikers and campers.

The blaze, which began Monday in the area about 20 miles southeast of San Jose, was fanned by hot, dry winds that pushed the flames through rugged, steep terrain, officials said. It was 20% contained by nightfall Tuesday.

Some private cabins in the park were threatened, but an outbuilding was the only structure destroyed so far, officials said. Homes outside the park were not immediately threatened.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Tuesday | California | Firefighters | Wildfires | Morgan Hill

To the south, in the Angeles National Forest, a four-day-old fire about 10 miles east of Santa Clarita grew to 2,100 acres, but Forest Service spokeswoman Stanton Florea said hundreds of firefighters made progress in their efforts to cut a line around the blaze, which was 46% contained.

Firefighters ordered the voluntary evacuation of 25 rural homes south of Acton on Monday, but no new evacuations were ordered Tuesday. No injuries were reported, and no structures had burned.

Milder weather also helped firefighters quell a 300-acre blaze that erupted near Elizabeth Lake in the Lancaster area, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Jason Hurd said.

"It's pretty much a done deal, we're basically in the mop-up stages," Hurd said. "The weather was pretty decent today."

Meanwhile, firefighters tackling an 85-acre wildfire in the San Bernardino National Forest at the east end of Big Bear Lake declared the blaze 100% contained Tuesday.

Firefighters also announced the containment Tuesday of 170-acre blaze that temporarily closed a nearly 20-mile stretch of Highway 101 along Santa Barbara County's Gaviota coast.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
These volunteers did a wonderful job," said Ray Goff, the owner of 3 Buttes Cattle Co., which had the most land burned.

Crown Butte is located seven miles south of Simms and 35 miles southwest of Great Falls.

The fire was reported on the butte's south side at about 8:45 a.m.

Members of the Cascade Colony saw a lightning strike and later witnessed the fire flare. They tried to fight it but they didn't have any equipment.

"When it burned, it burned very quickly," Goff said.

It was declared contained at 2:30 p.m., but helicopters with the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation were still dropping water as of 5 p.m.

Some 60 firefighters from Simms, Fort Shaw, Vaughn and Cascade fought it, with help from helicopter pilots from the state DNRC.

It was nip and tuck for a few hours.

Firefighters could not reach fire burning in a coulee — a coulee that could have provided a pathway to the top of the butte. From there, the fire would have headed north toward Simms.

"When it gets on top we're going to be in trouble again," incident commander Dave Anderson, the Fort Shaw fire chief, said at about noon.

At the time, lines of orange flames were nibbling across the grass. Trucks, tilted at angles, were moving up the side of the butte. Firefighters aimed water hoses or dug fire line.

After repeated requests for a helicopter, two finally reported. Anderson said later the helicopters had been diverted from other fires.

The fire area was between 500 and 1,000 acres, Anderson said, but just 286 burned.

The two cabins were owned by 3 Buttes. Goff credited steel roofs and strategic placement of gravel for their survival.

The fire never did make it to the preserve on top of Crown Butte, which stands 900 feet above the prairie. The preserve is owned by The Nature Conservancy.

"We were planning to take the hike up to the top," Dan MacFarlane of Connecticut said as he watched the fire. "Not today."

Rancher Ron Long, noting the abundance of rattlesnakes living on the butte, said he's expecting some additional snakes around his place thanks to the fire.

"It will move them around, I'm sure," he said.

Lightning also was blamed for starting a fire near Prewett Creek two miles northwest of the Hardy Creek bridge off of Interstate 15. Greg Moore of the Dearborn fire department said the fire was not threatening structures.

Meteorologist Jerome Saucier of the National Weather Service in Great Falls said showers and lightning strikes were out in front of a large cold front that's moving into the area from the southwest. Today's forecast calls for a high of 77 in Great Falls.

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Karl Puckett at 791-1471, 800-438-6600 or

Three firefighters braced themselves against the heat and flames from a burning house in Rancho Bernardo in San Diego County.

By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD Published: October 23, 2007
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 22, 2007 — More than a quarter of a million people were urged to flee their homes on Monday as wildfires ravaged Southern California for a second day, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses and charring swaths of scrub and forestland. The fires, a Hydra with at least 15 separate burns in seven counties fed by gale-force winds, burned some 267,000 acres from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. Engines and firefighters from as far as Nevada and Arizona were summoned as resources were stretched to the limit.

Houses burned with no firefighters in sight as emergency crews on the ground and in the air struggled to keep up with shifting wind that fanned new fires and made others recede and reignite.

Officials marveled that there had been just one death, in a fire in southeastern San Diego County on Sunday that also injured several people, including four firefighters. But thousands of residents remained just one step ahead of the flames.

His face smudged with ash, Bruce Gallagher fled in a motor home as flames approached his house in Ramona, San Diego County. He roamed the parking lot of a mall in Escondido, carrying two large plastic bottles in search of water.

“I have a feeling it’s probably gone,” Mr. Gallagher said of his home.

About 1,500 National Guard troops, including 200 diverted from the border, were deployed to help with evacuation and crowd control, mostly in the San Diego area, which appeared to be the hardest hit.

There, seven fires intensified and forced the largest evacuation ever in San Diego County, including entire towns like Ramona and Rancho Santa Fe in the rustic northern stretches. A total of 250,000 people were urged to evacuate.

Nearly 600 homes and 100 commercial buildings have burned in Southern California, most in San Diego County. Late Monday, about 15,100 were considered threatened.

State emergency officials said they feared that the fires, devouring some of the thickest and driest brush in years, could surpass the destruction of 2003, when California experienced its worst fire season on record.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had declared a state of emergency in seven counties on Sunday, said President Bush had called to offer federal assistance with the blazes, which could take several days to extinguish.

In San Diego, some worry the flames will advance from inland mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

“This is a major emergency,” said Ron Roberts, chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “The speed with which these fires are moving, because of the wind, they are probably unlike anything we’ve seen before.”

Thousands of uprooted people in San Diego County descended on Qualcomm Stadium near downtown and the Del Mar Fairgrounds north of the city, both of which opened as emergency shelters, while other people jammed freeways or made desperate bids to save their homes with garden hoses.

San Diego is particularly haunted by wildfires. The worst one in state history burned nearly 750,000 acres in 2003, destroyed 3,600 homes and other buildings, and killed 24 people across Southern California, with much of the damage and more than a dozen of the deaths in San Diego County.

Officials there said those memories prompted swift action this time as the latest fire burned in much of the same area and same direction as 2003.

The San Diego Wild Animal Park, a major tourist draw, was closed and the animals were moved to safer quarters while owners of horses throughout northern San Diego also rushed to save their animals.

Because of the fires’ erratic nature, state officials had difficulty compiling accurate data on the scope of the damage or progress in controlling them. Just as state officials at a midmorning news conference in Malibu were declaring a fire in suburban Los Angeles the state’s top priority, San Diego officials were issuing sweeping evacuation orders and television showed images of scores of buildings burning in a remote area of Los Angeles.

The hot, gusting winds, not expected to let up until late Tuesday, at times grounded fire-fighting airplanes, which are pivotal for their ability to dump tremendous amounts of water and fire retardant.

“We have to just pray the wind slows down because the wind is the No. 1 enemy in the dry weather,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in Malibu, where a large fire destroyed landmarks Sunday and flared anew after dying down somewhat overnight.

Some of the fires appeared to have been started by downed power lines, but a few were thought to have been caused by arson.

Brush and small trees burned in most cases, but firefighters faced a difficult problem northeast of Los Angeles at the Lake Arrowhead resort, where a forest fire erupted early in the afternoon and added to the plume of smoke hanging over most of the region. Towers of flame tore through houses and other structures there, and water-dropping aircraft did not arrive for a few hours as they fought a larger fire 70 miles away in heavily populated Santa Clarita Valley, a typical dilemma firefighters faced.

Scenes of residents taking matters into their own hands played out as some fires burned for long periods without a firefighter in sight.

Dozens of men, women and children in Canyon Country, north of Los Angeles, grabbed shovels and garden hoses and fought flames creeping up a canyon within 50 feet of their homes.

About seven children and young teenagers worked in tandem with their parents as the flames approached their back fences.

“That was hot!” said Steven Driedger, 14, as he examined his scratched legs for signs of a burn. “But I’m fine.”

Steven’s mother, Carolyn Driedger, said the family, along with their neighbors, had been battling the blaze since 4 a.m.

“Our neighborhood has really come together,” Ms. Driedger said, as a firefighting crew finally pulled up in the late morning. “We had to. These are the first official firefighters we’ve seen.”

In some of the day’s only good news, firefighters made significant progress in surrounding a fire in Orange County without a single home lost.

Reporting was contributed by Will Carless from Escondido, Ana Facio Contreras from Irvine, Larry Dorman from Poway and Regan Morris from Canyon Country.

Wildfires rage in California for third day

Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:17pm ET135
By Dana Ford

SAN DIEGO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Wildfires stoked by fierce winds burned unchecked across Southern California for a third day on Tuesday with 300,000 people in San Diego alone evacuated as flames destroyed or threatened homes from humble forest cabins to luxury villas.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders told people to "stay at home, stay off the freeways" so fire crews and evacuees could keep moving as the winds changed course. He said about 1,000 homes in San Diego County had been destroyed.


"We are in for another very dangerous day today. We may be forced to do very quick and immediate evacuations," said Ron Lane, head of San Diego County office of emergency services.

"We no doubt are going to be issuing additional evacuation notices today," he added.

The Marine base at Camp Pendleton, one of the largest in the United States, was on alert for possible evacuation of its 60,000 people, including families.

Officials said people were cooperating and evacuating quickly, resulting in minimal loss of life.   Tens of thousands in San Diego County, including elderly evacuees from nursing homes, spent the night in the Qualcomm sports stadium or the Del Mar Fairgrounds, as did thousands of pets and horses.

Just one person has died, in a San Diego fire on Sunday, and some three dozen have been injured.

The fires, whipped by hot, dry Santa Ana winds gusting to 70 miles per hour (113 kph) have swept the drought stricken region unchecked over the past two days from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border 230 miles (370 km) to the south.

The National Weather Service said "strong and damaging winds" will continue near Los Angeles through mid-afternoon, and high wind warnings may be issued for some areas Tuesday night. In San Diego, the strong winds fanning the flames were expected through Wednesday.

Some 300,000 acres (120,000 hectares) have burned, about the size of the city of Los Angeles, overwhelming fire crews and state emergency services.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger summoned aid from 1,500 National Guard troops, including 200 from the Mexican border, to help with firefighting, evacuations and crowd control.

Neighboring states, including Nevada and Arizona, rushed in crews and equipment. President George W. Bush early on Tuesday declared an emergency in the state and authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief in the seven counties stricken by wildfires. Among the thousands at the Qualcomm stadium were about 300 people evacuated from nursing homes. Volunteers set up tents for families and seniors in the walkways of the stadium.

"There's no word on our house," said Don Parmaley, who was at the stadium with his wife, Rose. "We were able to find a hotel room last night (Sunday) but they had to evacuate the hotel this morning (Monday)."

The firestorms closed major state highways, schools and businesses and plumes of thick black smoke drifted across much of Southern California, blotting out the sun.

One official said the Witch Fire could prove as devastating as 2003's so-called Cedar Fire that burned 280,000 acres (110,000 hectares) and killed 15 people.

A blaze in the seaside enclave of Malibu that had blackened 2,400 acres (970 hectares) was partly contained, having destroyed 10 buildings including a landmark castle and a church. (Additional reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego)