compiled by Dee Finney

Colorado Fire - 4-21-08

 Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved

Arizona Wildfire Burns 4,470 Acres

Monday, April 21, 2008

NOGALES, Ariz. —  A wildfire in remote and rugged terrain along the Arizona-Mexico border grew to 4,470 acres by Monday morning.

The fire in the Coronado National Forest was 40 percent contained. No homes or buildings were threatened by the blaze, which is about 11 miles west of Nogales, said Heidi Schewel, a spokeswoman for the Coronado National Forest.

High winds caused the fire, first spotted on Friday, to grow over the weekend. Winds were lighter on Sunday.

Officials attributed the fire's latest growth to intentional fires that were used for building protection lines around the blaze.

Crews plan to continue building and maintaining the protection lines Monday. The fire was expected to be fully contained by Thursday.


Canada Wildfires

California Wildfires - 7-7-08


Fire scorches 38 acres near Beaumont
The Press-Enterprise

A wildfire west of Beaumont charred 38 acres of grassland on Friday.

Equipment used by an individual in salvaging a vehicle sparked the fire, which damaged no structures, according to a Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department news release. Investigators are looking for anyone with information about the fire and would like to speak to individuals seen driving a late model blue Chevrolet or GMC pickup truck in the area, the release stated.

The fire burned toward Jackrabbit Trail off Highway 60, but smoke was visible from Interstate 10 in Calimesa.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-633-2836.

The blaze burned away from homes in rugged terrain. Firefighters doused the blaze in about two hours after it started about 3:30 p.m. The brushfire created a canvass of smoke that could be seen from Moreno Valley and San Jacinto.

Hand crews hiked through the hills to cut fire lines as air tankers and helicopters attacked the flames from above.

The afternoon blaze was one of the few wildfires of this year's fire season. October has been a notorious time for wildfires in past years due to high temperatures, Santa Ana winds and low humidity. Riverside County fire Capt. Julie Hutchinson said if Friday's winds had been worse, the outcome of the fire could have been a lot different.

"We're not out of the woods yet. I can't stress enough that California has a year-round fire season," Hutchinson said. "This time of year, fuels go dormant for the winter, and we don't want people to be complacent and let their guard down."

Riverside County firefighters are on an increased staffing pattern for a Red Flag warning issued through the weekend. Extra engines and crews from Northern California are on standby.

Sunday marks the second anniversary of the Esperanza Wildfire that killed five firefighters and charred the San Jacinto Mountains south of Cabazon and Beaumont. Staff writer Gail Wesson contributed to this report.

John Asbury



Forest Fires Pick Up Around Kentucky
Posted: 8:28 AM Oct 23, 2008

Weather is making it difficult for forestry officials trying to fight several wildfires.

An 80 acre fire in the Little Bull Creek area of Knox County is one of them.

Forestry officials say it's one of 11 fires burning in the southeastern forestry district.

They say only three of the fires are contained, but at last check, their efforts have prevented any fires from reaching homes.

Firefighters in Rockcastle County are working to make sure a fire there doesn't spread.

Early Thursday morning, the fire could be seen from the northbound lanes of I-75.

Firefighters were first called to it Wednesday afternoon.

They say no homes are in danger.

Wildfires burn near L.A. museum, Mount Baldy
By Andrew Dalton

 October 23, 2008

LOS ANGELES – Wildfires erupted Thursday near the world-famous Getty museum in Los Angeles and to the east at the base of soaring Mount Baldy as hot, dry weather baked Southern California.

No homes burned and no injuries were reported.

Firefighters waged furious air attacks on both blazes, dumping water and retardant that extinguished the Los Angeles blaze and quickly slowed flames on the big mountain to the east. Luckily, winds that hit 50 mph a day earlier had declined to breezes and the fires were relatively slow-moving.

The 100-acre fire near the Getty Center began about 12:50 a.m. and burned up to the backyard patios of multimillion-dollar homes before it was extinguished seven hours later.

The fire started about two miles from the Getty on a steep slope on the west side of Sepulveda Pass, which carries the interstate through the rugged Santa Monica Mountains.

Nearby Interstate 405 was closed for about four hours until 6 a.m., but motorists who tried alternate routes between the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles jammed roads for hours afterward.

The Getty and the nearby Skirball Cultural Center were closed for the day and classes were canceled for the day at Mount St. Mary's College.

For miles east of Los Angeles, a 120-acre blaze was reported at 2 p.m. north of the city of Upland. Flames rapidly blackened slopes at the base of 10,064-foot Mount Baldy, which towers over the region.

The fire was burning uphill and away from any nearby homes, said Jesse Estrada, a battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Helicopters quickly swooped in to dump water and fire retardant.

“The forward progress has pretty much been slowed,” Estrada said. “Initially it was a pretty fast rate of spread but right now it's slowed down considerably.”

Many areas of Southern California were under National Weather Service warnings of extreme fire danger because of low humidity and hot weather, with highs in the 90s.

Estrada said steep terrain was more of a problem than the light winds.

The fire was “slope- and fuel-driven” as it moved uphill in an area that last burned in 2003, he said.

The fire near the Getty museum burned close to where another wildfire began exactly 30 years earlier. The Mandeville Canyon fire of Oct. 23, 1978, was the first of a series of fires that erupted that day in Southern California, destroying 230 homes as they swept across thousands of acres of brush.

On Wednesday, gusty Santa Ana winds drove a 250-acre wildfire in Fontana and the canyons of Rancho Cucamonga, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

A containment line around the burned area was 90 percent completed Thursday but no flames were visible and authorities expected to completely surround it by evening, state fire officials said.


Wildfires eat up record 25,153 acres in Virginia
By Dave Thompson

Published: October 24, 2008

So far in 2008, wildfires in Virginia have eaten up 25,153 acres, breaking a record set in 1963, according to a report from the Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.

But local fire officials aren’t overly concerned even as fall wildfire season moves in on the heels of a rain-starved summer.

“It doesn’t appear to be very bad right now,” said Monelison Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Hunter.

One mitigating factor, he said, is the fact that leaves are still on the trees.

“Once the leaves get to falling, that hurts us in two ways,” Hunter said. “Number one, people want to burn them, and number two, it allows more sunlight to the forest floor and it dries that out.”According to the report, the total acreage burned so far totals more than three times the amount of land burned in 2007.

Of the more than 25,000 Virginia acres lost so far this year, 16,000 acres burned in one day, according to the report. About 200 fires sparked on Feb. 10 and were aided by a severe windstorm. The largest was a 1,500-plus-acre conflagration in the Montvale area of Bedford County.

The 200 fires, Virginia Department of Forestry Officials said, demolished the previous record of 88 fires in a day.

Derek Keiser, with the Virginia Department of Forestry, said conditions are nowhere near as fire-friendly as they were that day.

“You look outside, the grass and all is still green,” he said. “Those things kind of make us comfortable.”

Hunter recalled a blaze last November on Tobacco Row Mountain near Monroe that destroyed a few hundred acres.

“We’re nowhere near that. Last November was terribly dry,” he said. “We haven’t had much rain, (but) we haven’t had a lot of wind or, you know, high temperatures, low humidity.”

Keiser said even though indicators now are not particularly fire-friendly, people need to be mindful of the fact that weather is always unpredictable.

“You never know what the forecast is going to be in November,” he said, adding “we never let our guard down.”

He added that, in the event of a fire, conditions are still less than desirable for suppression efforts.

“Fires tend to burn a little bit hotter and a little bit faster than they would in a typical year, because it’s so dry,” he said.

Overall, he said the area is “in pretty good shape” compared to last year but carelessness or inattentiveness can still do a whole lot of damage.

“The old Smoky Bear thing is, you know, to try and prevent the forest fires before they happen,” Keiser said.



: Route 206 reopened, will remain open tonight unless smoke thickens

HAMMONTON -- State Police have reversed an earlier decision to close Route 206 this evening because of poor visibility caused by smoke from a forest fire. The road will remain open between Route 30 in Hammonton and Atsion Road in Shamong Township, according to Atlantic County Public Information Officer Linda Gilmore.

Roving patrols will remain on the perimeter of the area and continue to assess traffic safety conditions. Should smoke and fog return and reduce visibility to dangerously low levels, the roadway would then be closed, Gilmore said.

The fire, which began in Wharton State Forest ealier this week, as of yesterday had destroyed about 2,000 acres and continues to smoulder.

"We have ruled out any natural causes," said Gregory McLaughlin, division firewarden for the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, said Thursday. "We know that 99 percent of all wildfires in New Jersey are human caused -- accidental or intentional. We really don't know anything else. It is suspicious. We're going to continue to investigate the fire. We may never know (the cause)."

Motorists are advised to avoid the area. Route 206 reopened around noon Thursday after being closed on Tuesday. However, smoke is still present along the Shamong to Hammonton stretch, according to officials and drivers who have witnessed it.


118 freeway reopened after flames briefly threaten
The Associated Press

Article Launched: 10/14/2008

LOS ANGELES—Authorities have reopened the 118 Ronald Reagan Freeway in the San Fernando Valley after flames and smoke from a major Southern California Wildfire crept close early in the morning.

The California Highway Patrol says the 118 was closed in both directions for the second time in two days for about an hour Tuesday morning as the Sesnon Fire on the west side of the valley surged early in the day.

The freeway was closed between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. between DeSoto Ave. and Balboa Blvd.

The 118 was the scene of a fatal wreck Monday when a tow truck rear-ended a car and killed the driver in the smoke-filled roadway.  


Parts of the 210, 118 and 215 are closed.
One driver is killed in an accident on a smoke-filled roadway.

Three major Southern California freeways have been closed in some places this morning because of the wildfires.

In the San Fernando Valley, parts of the 210 Freeway and the 118 Ronald Reagan Freeway are closed, said California Highway Patrol Officer David Porter.

The CHP closed both the westbound and eastbound sides of the 118 Freeway between Balboa Boulevard and De Soto Avenue about 5:45 a.m., Porter said.

All on- and off-ramps of the 210 Freeway remained closed between Interstate 5 in Sylmar and Wheatland Avenue in Lake View Terrace.

In the Inland Empire, Interstate 215 is closed from the 210 Freeway to Inland Center Drive in San Bernardino.

At least one person has died in a traffic accident related to the fires. On the 118 on Monday, a tow truck rear-ended a car, killing the driver on a roadway obscured by smoke, resulting in a fiery wreck.



Wind-driven wildfires claim 2 near Los Angeles

Last Updated: Monday, October 13, 2008

A wildfire burns about 30 kilometres north of downtown Los Angeles on Monday morning. (Morry Gash/Associated Press)

Two huge wildfires driven by strong Santa Ana winds threatened neighbourhoods near Los Angeles on Monday, burning dozens of mobile homes, forcing frantic evacuations on smoke-choked highways and causing at least two deaths.

A man who appeared to have been a transient living in a makeshift shelter was one of the dead, authorities said. The other was a motorist who was killed about midday Monday in a head-on crash on a freeway entrance ramp as traffic tried to turn around to escape flames.

'It is a blowtorch we can't get in front of.'— Insp. Frank Garrido

Firefighters were struggling with a 2,000-hectare blaze in the San Fernando Valley's northeastern corner when a new blaze erupted at midmorning a few kilometres to the west in mountains above the Porter Ranch area and quickly grew to 800 hectares as wind blew up to 80 kilometres an hour, with gusts reaching more than 100 km/h.

"It is a blowtorch we can't get in front of," said Insp. Frank Garrido of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The first fire was burning where neighbourhoods abut rugged canyons below the mountainous Angeles National Forest.

Los Angeles County fire Capt. Mark Savage said as many as 38 mobile homes were destroyed by that blaze early Monday. About 1,000 firefighters from multiple agencies were deployed.

"We could have had an army there and it would not have stopped it," Battalion Chief Mario Rueda said. "Wind is king here. It's dictating everything we are doing."

Winds turn vegetation to tinder

The dry and warm Santa Ana winds typically blow between October and February. As they whistle through Southern California canyons and valleys, they accelerate, drying out vegetation and hastening the spread of any fires that erupt.

"This is what we feared the most," Savage said. "The winds that were expected, they have arrived."

Flames jumped the Foothill Freeway, which was closed in both directions for about a five-kilometre stretch in northern Los Angeles between the 118 Freeway and Interstate 5 amid the morning rush hour, officials said.

"That was quite a jump. That's an eight-lane fire break," said fire spokesman Insp. Paul Hartwell.

The Red Cross said about 500 people have registered at an evacuation centre at San Fernando High School. Agency spokesman Nick Samaniego said some evacuees had seen news footage of their homes burning.

"You can imagine, it's a devastating situation," he said. "A lot of people on pins and needles waiting to hear news about their communities."

Also Monday, a blaze charred more than half of San Francisco Bay's largest island but spared scores of historical structures, including an immigration station that was the first stop for millions of immigrants, mostly from China, in the early 1900s. The Angel Island wildfire was about 75-per-cent contained Monday afternoon; the cause remains under investigation.

Fire consumes a structure as fighters battle the blaze early Monday morning, Oct. 13, 2008, north of Los Angeles. Intense Santa Ana winds swept into Southern California and whipped up a 3,700-acre wildfire early Monday, burning mobile homes and industrial buildings and forcing the evacuation of eight patients from a nearby hospital. (AP Photo/Mike Meadows)


With files from the Associated Press


SoCal wildfires keep spreading
12:01 PM, October 13, 2008

SoCal wildfires keep spreading

12:01 PM, October 13, 2008

Even as the Marek fire, which has spread to 3,700 acres and shrunk to 5% containment, destroyed 37 mobile homes, new fires burn near Porter Ranch, in Santa Clarita and in San Bernardino County. A fire just north of Chatsworth, near Browns Canyon Road, is at five acres and growing quickly.

Air quality in the area is awful, needless to say. The American Lung Assn. of California is urging people to use common sense and stay indoors and to limit outdoor activity.

All local news channels have now switched to full fire coverage. Our fire package of stories, pix and maps, updated as new info comes in, is here.

— Veronique de Turenne

Photo: The Sky Terrace Mobile Lodge was hit by the Marek fire. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times


Napa County wildfire forces evacuations of over 100 homes

A wildfire just east of St. Helena in Napa County burned has 300 acres of rolling hills scattered with wineries, fire officials said.
The blaze just east of St. Helena had burned 300 acres this morning and was 40% contained.
By Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
11:55 AM PDT, October 11, 2008
Residents of more than 100 Napa County homes remained under evacuation orders today as a wildfire just east of St. Helena burned 300 acres of rolling hills scattered with wineries, fire officials said.

More than 1,500 firefighters worked through the night battling the fire, which started at 5:45 p.m. near Deer Park. By 7 a.m. the blaze was 40% contained, said CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant.




Warm Winds Heighten Fire Danger in California

Multiple Blazes in Southern Part of State Have Burned More Than 15,000 Acres; Emergency Is Declared in Two Counties

LOS ANGELES -- In the latest flare-up in a busy year for California fires, winds threatened to push a major wildfire south and west where it could rip through more-populated areas, including Simi Valley and Malibu, even as a second fire north of Los Angeles was brought under control.

Wildfires Rage Across Southern California

Dousing flames from land and sky, more than 1,000 firefighters are battling two major blazes on the northern fringe of Los Angeles. Video Courtesy Reuters. (Oct 14).

The blazes, along with another fire farther south, in San Diego County, are the first to erupt during what is typically the most intense period of Southern California's fire season. As more than 2,500 firefighters worked to contain the blazes, which have consumed more than 15,000 acres, warm Santa Ana winds risk

kicking up new fires. That could force firefighters to spread their resources more thinly to cope with new threats.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and more than 1,800 people were evacuated, though many were later allowed to return to their homes. The fires have resulted in one death and the loss of 50 structures, including homes and mobile homes.

As of midday Tuesday, the Marek fire, which began early Sunday on national forest land, was 70% contained. But farther west, firefighters were battling to get the upper hand on a fire that started Monday morning and doubled in size overnight to nearly 10,000 acres. That fire, dubbed the Sesnon fire, was burning on the northwestern edges of the San Fernando Valley, creeping toward the Granada Hills neighborhood. Though fire officials appeared to be making progress, they cautioned that unpredictable winds could hamper their efforts.

Late autumn, when hot daytime temperatures combine with gusty winds, can create the most dangerous fires, but recently California has been dealing with blazes throughout the year. "It's fire season all year round now," Gov. Schwarzenegger said during a news conference Tuesday.

Already this year, 1.54 million acres -- an area roughly the size of Delaware -- have burned in California, compared with 1.52 million acres during 2007. That has been an added strain on the state's overstretched budget.

Gov. Schwarzenegger sought Tuesday to reassure the public that the state still had adequate funds for firefighting. "Though we've had budget problems in our state and an economic slowdown, we don't spare one dollar when it comes to fighting fires," he said.

Last year, he said, the state spent an estimated $500 million on firefighting, an amount likely to be exceeded this year. While fires are a recurring problem in the state, last year's devastating fires in Southern California focused the public's attention on the danger, in part because the flames spread through more-populated areas, burning down more than 3,000 homes and claiming 10 lives.

The increase in the amount of land burned recently has forced local governments to shift resources to another problem: landslides. Burned areas are usually denuded of vegetation, so that hillsides can collapse under even moderate rainfall.

Santa Barbara County, for example, the site of a fire this summer, is now girding for massive flooding and landslides that could run across Highway 101, the airport and sections of the city of Santa Barbara's downtown.

"You can try to stop the fire, but you can't stop the flooding," said Santa Barbara County emergency-operations chief Michael Harris. He said the county expects it could be coping with 300,000 cubic yards of debris, or about 30,000 dump trucks' worth, and it has set up evacuation centers for residents.

Because the major fire in Santa Barbara County occurred in the summer, local officials had time to clear out streambeds and treat hundreds of acres via aerial hydromulching, in which planes spray an organic slurry mix over burned land that can help firm up weak soil.

But fires that rage during October give authorities little time to prepare for mudslide damage that comes when the rainy season begins, typically in November.

Write to Gabriel Kahn at gabriel.kahn@wsj.com and Peter Sanders at peter.sanders@wsj.com


October 15, 2008

Mass exodus as flames bear down on Los Angeles

Video: wildfires rage in California | LA notebook: a burning issue that isn't the credit crunch

The suburbs of Los Angeles were ablaze last night amid apocalyptic scenes of destruction that have resulted in two deaths and the hasty evacuation of thousands.

The fires are partly the result of a catastrophic drought in Southern California that has all but drained the state’s water reserves. The situation has been worsened by October’s hurricane-like “Santa Ana” winds, which have spread the flames at speed.

Officials are hoping that the fires will not reach the catastrophic proportions of last year’s inferno, which resulted in the evacuation of one million people and laid waste to an area 160 times larger than that destroyed by the atom bomb detonated over Hiroshima in 1945. Nevertheless, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County and neighbouring Ventura Country, and told residents to prepare for anything.

  • LA threatened by huge wildfires
  • So far, more than 20 square miles of suburban LA and northern San Diego County have been scorched, with the worst of the fires raging in the San Fernando Valley. More than 2,000 firefighters and a fleet of water-dumping aircraft were trying to control the blaze last night after it doubled in size.

    One person was killed in a car accident blamed on a firefighting operation that was trying to prevent flames from reaching the road. Meanwhile, a homeless man was found dead in the scorched canyon below the Angeles National Forest. He appeared to have been living with a dog in a makeshift shelter, the authorities said.

    About 3,000 homes remained evacuated as of last night.

    “The fire wants to make its way to the [Pacific] coast, and we’re going to do our level best to stop it,” said Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. “Two-thirds of our department is on the line.”

    Fire officials yesterday put several of LA’s fire-prone communities on alert, including the celebrity enclave of Malibu.


    Fire still threatens homes west of Yosemite Park


    MIDPINES, CALIF. - A fast-spreading wildfire raged out of control Sunday near an entrance to Yosemite National Park after forcing residents to evacuate 170 homes and leading authorities to cut power to the park. The blaze had charred about 25 square miles, or 16,000 acres, since Friday as wooded slopes ignited amid hot, dry conditions that have plagued California for months. The steep terrain west of the park is overgrown with dense brush that was fueling the flames, fire officials said.

    "There's no fire history in the past 100 years. That's one of the reasons this fire's been able to burn so erratically," Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Sunday.

    Officials ordered the evacuations of 170 homes under immediate threat. About 2,000 homes faced at least some danger from the fast-spreading flames, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

    About 900 firefighters were battling the fire and hundreds more were headed to the scene along the Merced River west of Yosemite, one of the nation's most visited national parks. Most of the evacuated homes are in the town of Midpines, located along Highway 140, about 12 miles from the park.

    The highway, which leads to one of two entrances on the west side of the park, remained open Sunday morning, according to the California Department of Transportation.

    State fire spokeswoman Karen Guillemin said the cause of the fire "is definitely target shooting," but he would not elaborate.

    The National Weather Service forecast sunny weather Sunday with temperatures in the high 90s.

    On Saturday, firefighting efforts were hampered by temperatures over 100 degrees and low humidity. The weather, coupled with a dry wilderness area, has made fighting the blaze very hazardous.

    "Dozers are trying to push dirt as fast as they can to get safety zones for our firefighters that are out there," Guillemin said. "Crews are cutting brush as fast as they can but it's an extremely dangerous situation at this point."

    Electricity was cut to a wide area, including the park, to protect firefighters battling flames beneath power lines, said Department of Forestry spokeswoman Cheryl Goetz.


    California wildfires spread along Pacific coast

    By Guy Adams
    Monday, 7 July 2008


    More than 1,700 out-of-control fires have been reported ? of which 1,400 are partially contained. \

    Wildfires have forced thousands of people to flee their homes in California's hills. More than 2,000 firefighters spent the weekend battling 300 fires that have now destroyed more than half a million acres of countryside and at least 69 homes.

    A state of emergency has been declared. The holiday town of Big Sur, a New Age resort on Highway 1 – the famous road that runs the length of America's west coast – was partially evacuated, leaving 2,600 houses to their fate.

    Television helicopters showed aircraft dropping water on 100ft flames, while journalists interviewed the owners of 1,400 other properties who are being kept on standby, ready to flee.

    The Henry Miller Memorial Library, home to the books and artefacts of the Tropic of Cancer author, one of the many writers who have lived in Big Sur, is also at risk.

    Freak electrical storms combined with a long-running drought to start blazes across the region. More than 1,700 out-of-control fires have been reported – of which 1,400 are partially contained.

    Fighting the disaster is reported to have so far cost more than $300m (£150m) and California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to secure Federal assistance


    Big flames surround Big Sur

    1 death today

    Last Updated: Friday, July 4, 2008

    A firefighter in northern California died as 335 wildfires burned around the state on Friday, mostly along the Big Sur coastline between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

    Robert Roland, a 63-year-old volunteer firefighter, collapsed Thursday on the fire line in Mendocino County, north of San Francisco, where he was battling a 2.2-square-kilometre blaze. He later died at a hospital.

    It was the first reported death of a California firefighter this season, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered flags at the state capitol to fly at half mast.

    The fires are said to be threatening more than 4,500 homes along the coast. As the blaze in the northern end of the Los Padres National Forest moved closer to Big Sur on Friday, a fire 320 kilometres south in Santa Barbara County doubled in size overnight Thursday due to hot winds, according to officials.

    An evacuation order has been served to more than 1,700 homes around the city of Goleta, near Santa Barbara. An equal number of residences were ordered to evacuate in Big Sur earlier this week.

    Kirk Gafill, general manager of Nepenthe, a restaurant in the Big Sur area, said he and five employees were working feverishly to protect the cliffside business his grandparents built in 1949.

    Wearing dust masks, the crew scrambled to stamp out embers, some the size of dinner plates, that were dropping from the sky.

    "This fire is unprecedented in the history of Big Sur so the community is competing for help from fire agencies as we just don't have the resources to cope," Gafill told the CBC.

    "There is no dedicated support to protect properties from the fire, hence people are refusing to move. We know we can rely only on ourselves and our neighbours as fire officials don't have the resources to secure our properties."

    Solemn Independence Day

    July 4, U.S. Independence Day, is normally a booming time for tourism in the region, with visitors settling into vacation homes or trekking out to campgrounds nestled among redwoods. But this year, the only out-of-towners in Big Sur are firefighters working around the clock to save it from flames.

    Crews near the Pacific Coast Highway fought back flames from houses and historic landmarks, including the upscale Ventana Inn, which was surrounded by crackling, burning brush Thursday afternoon. Several houses perched on a ridge about a half kilometre from the inn fell victim to the fire the night before.

    Most of the 335 wildfires burning in the state were ignited by lightning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S. Forest Service. The number is down from a peak of roughly 1,500 fires only a few days ago.

    In all, the wildfires have scorched more than 1,000 square kilometres and destroyed at least 65 structures since June 20, the forestry department said.

    With firefighting resources stretched thin early in the fire season, counties have been recruiting volunteer firefighters to help with smaller blazes.


    Wind keeps California fires raging on 2 fronts

    BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — A pair of out-of-control wildfires roared along California's central coast Friday, chewing through opposite ends of a parched forest and threatening a total of more than 4,500 homes.

    While flames from the stubborn fire in the northern flank of the Los Padres National Forest inched closer to Big Sur's historic vacation retreats, state emergency officials said hot winds had caused a newer blaze 200 miles south in Santa Barbara County to double in size overnight.

    Residents of more than 1,700 homes in and around the city of Goleta were ordered to evacuate, joining an equal number of people who were told to leave Big Sur days earlier.

    Driven by wind gusts as high as 40 mph, the Santa Barbara County fire was so fierce early Friday that firefighters at one point took shelter in about 70 homes they were trying to defend, said Capt. Eli Iskow of the county fire department.

    "Hundreds of firefighters were in place around hundreds of structures," Iskow said. "I think we saved every one of those structures in that area."

    Wind was less of a problem in Big Sur, which remained eerily empty under a thick blanket of fog and smoke at the start of the long holiday weekend. No more properties were lost since Thursday, but the density of the parched terrain allowed the 13-day-old wildfire to keep advancing on the storied tourist town, where flames made their way toward the scenic Pacific Coast Highway and sent forest creatures running toward the Pacific Ocean for cover.

    "It came down into the canyon last night. I couldn't sleep. It's still in there lurking about," said Kurt Mayer, who ignored the mandatory evacuation orders to douse his Big Sur Deli with fire-retardant gel.

    Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said weather forecasts calling for winds to kick up again in the afternoon had officials worried the outlook for both blazes was not going to improve anytime soon.

    By Friday morning, the Big Sur fire was only 5 percent contained and had consumed more than 100 square miles and 20 homes, while the Goleta fire was nearly 15 percent contained and had destroyed about a half-dozen outbuildings and more than 10 square miles.

    The Los Padres blazes were two of 335 active wildfires burning in California, down from a peak of roughly 1,500 fires a few days ago, but they were commanding the greatest share of equipment and personnel because of their locations near populated areas, Berlant said.

    "Any time we have structures threatened and lives at risk, it's a top priority," he said.

    Goleta resident Susan Ramirez said she and her husband and two children evacuated their duplex about 2 miles from the fire late Thursday as conditions deteriorated. They were staying with her parents, also in Goleta, and watching the smoke.

    "It was completely black, and there was too much ash," Ramirez said. "Our eyes were burning, and we were trying to get out of there as fast as we could."

    Since a series of dry lightning strikes ignited more than 1,500 wildfires across central and Northern California on June 21, more than 520,000 acres, or 814 square miles, of range and forest land has gone up in flames.

    Along with the Goleta and Big Sur fires, another fire generating concern is in the Sequoia National Forest east of Bakersfield, where a wind-driven blaze had burned 25 square miles, destroyed one home and threatened 1,000 more in nearby communities.

    A mobile home fire in Malibu quickly spread to brush Friday, burning about 25 acres and leading to the evacuation of Malibu Creek State Park. It was burning not far from a Hindu temple and the historic King Gillette ranch, built in the 1920's for razor magnate King C. Gillette.

    In Arizona, officials said a blaze southeast of Prescott had burned four homes since it broke out June 28. The blaze has forced the evacuation of the mountain town of Crown King and was half contained Friday night.

    Associated Press writers Jacob Adelman in Los Angeles and Jordan Robertson in Carmel, Calif., contributed to this report.


    NOTE:  I can tell you from personal experience that living with smoke in the air for days on end is not healthy.  I feel really bad for those people who have asthma and other debilitating lung diseases.  Little children shouldn't be outside playing in this nasty air either. This is really bad.  Some days we could hardly see the sun in the sky and it wasn't cloudy - just smoke.

    Smoke from hundreds of fires in Northern California
    creates a haze over the Richmond-San Rafael bridge.

    Big Sur wildfires wreak havoc

    • Story Highlights
    • Two fires combine near Big Sur, California, burning 26,763 acres
    • Farther inland, Indian fire destroys more than 10 buildings, burns 59,700 acres
    • Firefighters brace for more blazes as dry thunderstorms threaten parts of California

    LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Smoke climbed high into the sky Friday as firefighters struggled to contain two wildfires that combined near Big Sur in California, a fire official said.

    The Gallery and Basin fires have destroyed 16 homes and burned 26,763 acres in Monterey County, said Mike Jarvis, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

    The combined blaze is less than 5 percent contained, Jarvis said.

    Farther inland, the Indian Fire west of King City has destroyed more than 10 buildings and burned more than 59,700 acres, according to Jarvis.

    Several areas near King City are under mandatory evacuation orders, and several firefighters have been injured, he said.

    State and federal firefighters battling hundreds of blazes were preparing for a new generation of fires through the weekend.

    More dry thunderstorms were predicted to sweep through California on Friday, with cloud-to-ground lightning that will hit the tinder-dry grass region like a blast furnace, forecasters warned.

    CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf said high winds would accompany the electrical storms.

    ="true"> Firefighters battle hundreds of blazes in California

    The state has battled more than 1,200 wildfires on state and federal land since last Friday, when 5,000 to 6,000 lightning strikes hit the region, Fred Orsborn, a fire information officer for the Northern Operations Center.

    In Northern California, 193,470 acres have burned, Orsborn said.

    Federal and National Guard aerial support has been sent to California to help battle the fires, but thick smoke from the blazes, like "early morning fog," has made it difficult for aircraft to reach the affected areas, Orsborn said.

    Several counties said their damage from the fires reached at least $1 million, with some estimating damage of up to $4 million, according to the Forestry and Fire Protection Web site

    The state's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, asked President Bush on Friday to declare a federal state of emergency in California, saying the incident was "beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments," according to a news release.

    Many of the blazes were "spot fires" that affected small areas and were put out quickly, he said. But others spread and continue to burn.

    In Mendocino County in Northern California, where there are 121 wildfires, 87 remain uncontrolled, and those fires are only about 5 percent contained, said Vikki Lowry, a public health spokeswoman for the county.

    About 27,000 acres have been burned, and several voluntary evacuations are in place, she said.

    The Shasta-Trinity area has 158 fires that have burned about 35,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Web site. About 5 percent have been contained.

    Two fires in the Sonoma Lake-Napa region in western California are still active. One of them, the Walker fire in Lake County, has destroyed 14,500 acres and is 70 percent contained, said a spokeswoman for the Sonoma Lake-Napa unit.

    There have been no fatalities from the fires, but 27 injuries have been reported in both state and federal jurisdictions, Orsborn said. Seventeen homes have been destroyed, he said.

    Because of the "aggressive initial action" to control the fires, about 320 had been contained as of Friday, Jarvis said.

    Since the beginning of the year, there have been 35,155 fires nationwide that have destroyed approximately 2,031,659 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center Web site.



    Myriad wildfires pollute air, pose health risks and keep on spreading

    Friday, June 27, 2008

    (06-26) 11:52 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Bay Area residents can expect to remain mired in a smoky haze this weekend as nearly 1,100 wildfires chew up 250 square miles of land around Northern California. For those most sensitive, the foul air could pose health risks, pollution regulators and meteorologists said Thursday.

    Temperatures are expected to top out in the 80s and even the 90s in hot spots like Livermore, which would make for great summer weather, "if only you could breathe," said Diana Henderson, a National Weather Service forecaster.

    Existing fires continued to spread Thursday, even as new fires were discovered. And state and federal fire officials said they were preparing for the return of the same dry thunderstorms that sparked most of the recent blazes. The storms were expected to bring lightning strikes starting late Thursday and continuing through the weekend.

    The Bay Area Air Quality Management District said it expects pollution levels to remain unhealthy today in portions of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties. People who are very young or old, or suffer from lung or heart disease, are most at risk.

    Of particular concern, said agency spokesman Aaron Richardson, are smoke particles smaller than 1/20th of the diameter of a human hair that are not filtered out of the body by the nose or throat, and may pass into the bloodstream.

    Concern about polluted air was one reason why organizers canceled Saturday's 100-mile Western States Endurance Run. The famous footrace from Squaw Valley to Auburn was scrapped for the first time in its 35-year history because of the "health risks that have been associated with these wildfires," race officials said in a statement.

    As of Thursday afternoon, officials had identified 1,088 fires in Northern California that covered 159,000 acres and destroyed at least 18 homes. More than 12,500 state and federal firefighters were on the job, with 68 helicopters and 14 airplanes dropping water and retardant liquid. Closures were in place on Highways 32, 36, 70, 89 and 96 and 299.

    One of the smokiest fires continued to grow in Lake and Colusa counties. The Walker Fire was just 10 percent contained and had the potential to shut down Highway 20 and burn more than 30,000 acres - or nearly 50 square miles - as it moved north through steep and rugged terrain, the state's firefighting agency said.

    The Walker Fire had not destroyed any homes in the remote area, and the popular Wilbur Hot Springs resort that was evacuated was spared, said Roger Archey, a spokesman for the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. On Thursday, he said, the two-lane Highway 20 remained open, but was crowded with emergency vehicles and choked with smoke from the blaze.

    As of Thursday morning, Archey said, nearly 600 firefighters had reported to the blaze, using five helicopters to drop water and 21 bulldozers to carve out wide perimeter lines, attempting to stop the fire's advance. The cause remained under investigation, though it was reported earlier as lightning.

    "It's really gnarly country, a lot of brush and chaparral and steep terrain," Archey said. "There are fast-burning fuel types that are problematic, obviously."

    Another major concern was the Eagle Fire in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, which jumped Highway 299 on Wednesday and prompted the closure of a stretch of the roadway as well as evacuations near Junction City.

    In Monterey County, both directions of Highway 1 south of Big Sur remained closed in a 12-mile stretch because of what is now known as the Basin Complex of fires in Los Padres National Forest. The highway is likely to stay shut for several more days, according to Caltrans.

    The possibility of the flames traveling about a mile west and reaching Big Sur lessened Thursday, though the combined fires had burned 24,000 acres and are only 3 percent contained, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said.

    The fire, which has destroyed 16 homes, is considered to be in the southern part of California and is thus not included in the damage report for Northern California.

    To view a map showing significant fires in California, go to sfgate.com/maps/fires2008

    E-mail Demian Bulwa at dbulwa@sfchronicle.com.

    This article appeared on page B - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle


    Denver & the west

    Most wildfires blamed on dry lightning

     By Howard Pankratz and Kieran Nicholson
    The Denver Post

    More than a dozen wildfires have been sparked in Colorado in the past week, most by "dry lightning," and the biggest has burned more than 1,100 acres in Park County.

    The Nash Ranch fire, which started Thursday afternoon east of Guffey, forced the evacuation of about 150 homes, said Linda Balough, a Park County spokeswoman.

    Two structures — a shed and camper trailer — have been lost to the blaze, Balough said.

    About 125 fire fighters, including a Rocky Mountain Area Type II Incident Management Team, swarmed into the Guffey area to battle the blaze, she said.

    Dry conditions, swirling winds and high temperatures have combined to make this year an active fire season.

    A total of 86,231 acres have burned in Colorado Colorado in 2008, said Steve Segin, spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center. Last year, which included a much tamer fire season, only 26,535 acres were lost to blazes.

    Most of the fires to date have been on the dry eastern plains. As fire season progresses, more blazes are expected in the southern Front Range, mostly in areas below 8,500 feet.

    The Nash Ranch fire is still confined to Park County, but it could spread into nearby Teller and Fremont counties, Balough said.

    A shelter has been set up at the local school in Guffey and livestock has been taken to the Teller County Fairgrounds in Cripple Creek.

    Friday, FEMA authorized funds to help fight the Nash Ranch fire.

    The authorization makes Federal Emergency Management Agency funding available to pay 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs, Balough said.

    Most of the other fires in the state remained relatively small and in check Friday.

    The Miller Fire in the Pike National Forest south of Buffalo Creek burned at least six acres Friday. Eight smoke jumpers dropped into the Devils Canyon fire in Jefferson County and worked in the rugged terrain building a fire line through the day Friday. That fire had burned about seven acres.

    Firefighters also battled a blaze on 15 acres near Idaho Springs north of Echo Lake.

    Small fires also had burned on the Southern Ute Reservation and outside of Boulder.

    Firefighters from the state and region also have been sent to help battle California fires. About 300 firefighters and 60 engines have been deployed to fight more than 1,000 fires in that state.

    Smoke from the hard hit area is wafting across the country.

    Hazy skies began developing over the Denver area Friday, a direct result of the the California fires, said Segin.

    He said smoke from the California fires had originally blown into Idaho and Wyoming, but a cold front moving into Colorado pushed the smoke into the Front Range.

    "We call it drift smoke," Segin said.

    Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939 or hpankratz@denverpost.com


    Lightning sparks 800-plus fires in California
    Jun 24, 5:23 AM (ET)


    (AP) Capt. Todd Nelson, of the Sonoma Lake Napa Fire Dept, chops down trees on a hillsidein Mt. Madonna...

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - More than 840 wildfires sparked by an "unprecedented" lightning storm are burning a swath of Northern California, alarming the governor and requiring the help of firefighters from Nevada and Oregon.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was told late Sunday evening that the state had 520 fires, and he found it "quite shocking" that by Monday morning the number had risen above 700.

    Moments later, a top state fire official standing at Schwarzenegger's side offered a grim update: The figure was actually 842 fires, said Del Walters, assistant regional chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. All but a couple were in the northern part of the state.

    "This is an unprecedented lightning storm in California, that it lasted as long as it did, 5,000 to 6,000 lightning strikes," Walters said. "We are finding fires all the time."

    Out-of-state assistance, mostly firefighting aircraft, arrived from Nevada and Oregon after being requested over the weekend. Schwarzenegger said he had enlisted the help "because you can never prepare for 500 or 700 or 800 fires all at the same time."

    Part of the reason for the swelling number of wildfires was that local and state officials were still counting after fierce thunderstorms Friday night touched off the blazes.

    "We didn't get real lucky with this lighting storm," Walters said. "It wasn't predicted - which often happens with these storms that come in off the Pacific, there's no history of the weather as it approaches the shore - and so we got hammered."

    In Mendocino County alone there were 110 fires, with just 17 contained.

    Two of the state's biggest fires had each charred nearly 6 square miles.

    (AP) Capt. Todd Nelson, of the Sonoma Lake Napa Fire Dept, clears trees from a hillside in Mt. Madonna...

    One started in Napa County and quickly moved into Solano County, and threatened about 250 homes about 40 miles southwest of Sacramento, said Kevin Colburn, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was 60 percent contained.

    The other was in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, about 160 miles north of Sacramento, and threatened about 1,200 homes. The largest of the fires threatened about 1,200 homes, and several youth camps and forced evacuations. The governor declared a state of emergency in Monterey and Trinity Counties on Monday.

    Along the coast in the Los Padres National Forest, a 2,000-acre wildfire burning south of Big Sur since Saturday forced the evacuations of 75 homes and businesses, destroyed one house and threatened hundreds of others.

    It also led to an emergency airlift Sunday of eight endangered California condors. U.S. Coast Guard helicopters transported the seven juveniles and one adult bird from a wildlife center to the Monterey Airport.

    A second fire in the Los Padres burned more than 57,000 acres and has injured nine firefighters.

    In New Mexico, crews dropped 11,500 chemical balls injected with antifreeze to try to ignite unburned vegetation and halt a blaze that has charred more than 49,000 acres, largely on grazing allotments on federal land.

    Lightening sparked the fire Tuesday in the Lincoln National Forest about 20 miles southwest of Hope. It was not threatening any structures.

    "The ranchers have already moved a lot of the cattle that were out there," U.S. Forest Service fire information officer Deanna Younger said. The grazing areas "will be the main loss," she said.


    6-23-08  -  over 480 fires still burning in CA

    Here's a Cal fire update on as many fires they can get information on (full at link):
    Conditions: Summary of Fires by Unit

    Siskiyou Unit: 8 fires reporting minor acreage. All fires have been contained.

    Humboldt-Del Norte Unit: 50 fires for more than 200 acres. The Paradise Fire is Northeast of Shelter Cove and is 500 acres and 5% contained, The Redcrest Fire is 30 acres, the High Fire is in Humboldt Redwood State Park with unknown acreage or containment, the Carson Fire is 40 acres and 50% contained, the Hansen Fire is 2 acres with unknown containment, the Williams Fire is 25 acres and 50% contained, In the BLM Headwaters Forest there are three additional small fires buring.

    Mendicino Unit: 90 fires have been reported for a total of more than 7,625 acres. The Orr Fire is 200 acres and has evacuations of the Orr Springs Resort and 50 homes in the area, the Navarro Fire is 1,400 acres and 5% contained, the Cherry fire is 50 acres and 50% contained, the Foster Fire is 50 acres and 50% contained, the Table Mtn. Fire is 1,000 acres and 5% contained, the Mallo Pass Fire is 800 acres, and the Juan Creek fires (2) are at 100 acres each. There are 8 additional fires at 30 acres each.

    San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit: 15 fires have been reported. See the Whitehurst/Hummingbird Incident link for more information on those two fires.

    Amador-El Dorado Unit:16 fires have been reported. The primary fires of concern are the Soldier fire located 3 miles northeast of Pollock Pines and north of Highway 50. The Soldier fire is 35 acres and 35% contained, the Vineyard Fire is 15 acres with unknown containment, the Bottle Fire is 22 acres with unknown containment, and the Deer Fire with unknown acreage and containment (the Deer Fire is a new incident burning within the Amador-El Dorado Unit).

    Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit: 7 fires reported. The fire of concern is the Mosquito Fire which is holding at 75 acres.

    Butte Unit: 24 fires for a total of more than 1,397 acres. The Rim Fire has burned 50 acres with unknown containment. Butte County Sheriff's department is effecting a Precautionary Evacuation Advisory for the Lake Concow Area for a lighting fire in excess of 100 acres burning off of Rim Rd. (Also referred to as Andy Mountain Rd.) in the Concow area. The American Red Cross is setting up an evacuation shelter at the Spring Valley School at 2771 Pentz Rd. off of Hwy 70. There are four road closures in effect: Concow Rd. from Yellow Wood Rd. north to the end of the pavement on Concow Rd, Concow Rd. from Nelson Bar to end of pavement, Rim Rd. (also known as Andy Mtn. Rd) from Hwy 70 to end of Rim Rd., Deadwood from Hwy 70 to Concow Rd.

    Tehama-Glen Unit: 36 fires for a total of 600 acres.

    Shasta-Trinity Unit: 62 fires up to 50 acres in size. Shasta-Trinity Unit Information (530) 225-2510

    Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit: 5 fires with 4 contained and one (Wild Fire) burning near Napa West of Fairfield. See the Wild Fire Incident link for more information.

    Lassen-Modoc Unit: 50 fires for a total of 25-40 acres.

    Tuolumne-Calavares Unit: 16 fires for a total of 140 acres. Currently the counties of Tuolumne and Calaveras are experiencing heavy smoke in low lying areas due to fires caused by heavy lightning activity yesterday.

    Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit:15 fires reported
    The Cunningham Complex (5 fires total) are burning 3,150 acres total, the Stumpfield Fire is burning 2 acres, the Indian Peak Fire is burning 60 acres, and the Oliver Fire is burning in the Sequoia National Forest. The Sequoia National Forest has reported 25 fires.

    Calif. firefighters wrestle with dozens of blazes

    Over 600 fires were started by dry lightning over the weekend

    By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Thunderstorms sparked as many as 75 wildfires in a wilderness area in far Northern California on Saturday as officials farther south got close to containing a blaze that destroyed several homes and forced thousands to evacuate.

    Storms overnight Friday were responsible for the large number of fires in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, near Redding. Those fires range in size from less than an acre to more than 750 acres.

    None immediately threatened homes, said Forest Service spokesman Michael Odle. Teams moved in Saturday on the two largest fires.

    South of San Francisco, a fire that burned homes and closed a stretch of highway was 90 percent contained, said officials of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

    Officials had expected full containment on Saturday, but hot weather and stubborn hot spots kept fire crews busy. Cal Fire now expects the fire to be fully contained on Sunday. So far, it had charred 630 acres, or less than a square mile.

    Evacuation orders were lifted Saturday, a day after roughly 2,000 people fled their homes.

    About 650 firefighters were working in hot, dry weather to contain the blaze, which destroyed as many as 15 buildings, including several homes, and closed scenic Highway 1 in Santa Cruz County for hours, fire officials said.

    The cause of the fire was still under investigation, Van Gerwen said.

    It was the third major blaze to hit Santa Cruz County in the past month. A 520-acre blaze charred destroyed 11 buildings in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and a fire near Corralitos covered more than 4,200 acres and destroyed about 100 buildings.

    To the south along the coast, firefighters worked against a nearly 80-square-mile fire in a remote part of the Los Padres National Forest in Monterey County. It was about half contained Saturday.

    In New Mexico, hundreds of firefighters battled blazes in the northern and southern parts of the state that have charred more than 100 square miles, including more than 4,000 acres on a ranch owned by media mogul Ted Turner.

    In a remote southeastern part of the state, lightning-sparked fires have scorched more than 95 square miles of mainly desert landscape.

    The largest fire, 20 miles southwest of Hope, doubled in size Friday because of gusty winds and has charred more than 40,000 acres, or about 64 square miles. It was 35 percent contained. Two other blazes burning about 30 miles west of Roswell merged Saturday, and have blackened nearly 32 square miles.

    In northern New Mexico, another fire that began as two blazes burned nearly 7 square miles on Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch.


    Associated Press writer Matt Mygatt in New Mexico contributed to this report.

    U.S. News
  • Wildfire threatens homes in Northern California
    » All news video
    San Ramon Valley firefighter Kevin Rawitzer works on a a burned down house in Watsonville, Calif., Saturday, June 21, 2008. Firefighters moved closer Saturday to gaining control over a Santa Cruz County fire that burned several homes, forced hundreds to evacuate and closed a six-mile stretch of coastal Highway 1 for hours.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
    AP Photo: San Ramon Valley firefighter Kevin Rawitzer works on a a burned down house in Watsonville,...

    Firefighters battle blazes burning in remote areas

    By HEATHER CLARK Associated Press Writer

    Firefighters will burn out vegetation Sunday along a forest road to stop a 43,000-acre wildfire burning in southern New Mexico that's destroying grazing allotments, a U.S. Forest Service fire information officer said.

    Two other lightning-sparked wildfires also have burned nearly 30,000 acres west of Roswell in southern New Mexico and the other west of Raton in the northern part of the state.

    The Rocky Fire—started by lightning Tuesday in the Lincoln National Forest about 20 miles southwest of Hope—was 35 percent contained Sunday, fire information officer Deanna Younger said. No structures are threatened.

    The blaze stretches from far western Eddy County into Otero and Chaves counties and is burning on Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and private land.

    "The game plan today is we've identified forest roads as boundaries we want to use to control the fire," Younger said.

    Fire crews conducted back burn operations along Forest Road 67 south of the blaze, which was spreading through heavier desert vegetation along drainage ditches, she said.

    "The ranchers have already moved a lot of the cattle that were out there," Younger said. The grazing areas "will be the main loss."

    An air tanker and helicopters were dropping water and retardant on the fire, she said.

    Hotter and drier weather was forecast the next few days and the wind was picking up Sunday afternoon, she said.

    Also in southern New Mexico, the Bonney Fire, which started as two separate fires Wednesday, has burned 25,329 acres about 30 miles west of Roswell. The blaze was 40 percent contained, a news release showed.

    The fire was burning on BLM and state land, and no structures were in danger.

    More than 300 fire personnel were helped by rain that fell on the fire overnight and cooler weather was in the forecast for Sunday, the release said. Two water tenders and 17 engines were assigned to the fire.

    Some islands of fuel in the blaze's interior were still burning, the release said.

    More than 300 crew members will check the fire for hot spots and patrol its perimeter to make sure it stays within the fire lines.

    In northern New Mexico, a Type II Incident Management Team was brought in for a 4,280-acre wildfire on the media mogul Ted Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch nearly 30 miles west of Raton. The West Fork Fire was 20 percent contained, said fire information officer Gary Roberts.

    About 240 people were assigned to the fire, along with 13 engines, three helicopters, three bulldozers and two water tenders.

    Lightning strikes slowed the progress of fire crews Sunday, but they were able to conduct burnout operations and they were successful in keeping the fire away from Caliente Canyon, Roberts said.

    The lightning-caused fire that broke out Tuesday has been burning mainly ponderosa pine, pinon and juniper trees.

    In Farmington, a six-block neighborhood was evacuated for several hours Saturday after a brush fire burned out of control. Fire officials think someone was attempting a controlled burn in a nearby canyon or ditch when the fire grew burned out of control, Farmington Fire Chief Troy Brown told The Daily Times.

    The residents were allowed back in their homes Saturday evening after the fire was under control. No major injuries or damaged structures were reported.


  • 2 new wildfires burning in southern Arizona

    TUCSON - Two new wildfires are burning in southern Arizona, these apparently caused by humans.

    Coronado National Forest spokesman Randall Smith says three heavy tankers and one helicopter are attacking the rapidly growing Nuevo fire. The fire has charred some 50 acres of grass and brush about a dozen miles southeast of Arivaca.

    A second fire about 1½ miles north of the Nuevo fire has not been named yet.


    Calif. wildfires threaten homes, force evacuations

    FELTON, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters struggled to gain control of a series of wildfires burning across Northern California on Thursday, including a wind-whipped blaze that forced thousands to leave their homes.

    Authorities closed all roads to Paradise, a town of about 30,000 residents about 90 miles north of Sacramento. The blaze, which started around noon Wednesday, had grown to nearly 13 square miles and threatened about 1,650 structures.

    In the Bonny Doon area, about 10 miles northwest of Santa Cruz, a wildfire quickly grew to one square mile after it broke around 3 p.m. Wednesday. It was unclear how many structures had been damaged, fire officials said.

    Evacuations were ordered for 500 residents in the heavily forested hills. Voluntary evacuations were in place for another 1,000 residents.

    Nearly 800 firefighters were battling the blaze, which could spread to as many as 1,500 acres, Battalion Chief Paul Van Gerwen said.

    Hot temperatures and tinder-dry vegetation prevailed throughout Northern California, where hundreds of firefighters were deployed on fire lines from the North Coast wine country to the Central Valley.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Butte County late Wednesday to free up additional firefighting resources. He declared another one in Santa Cruz County early Thursday.

    Farther south, the state's largest wildfire had charred more than 16,000 acres in the Los Padres National Forest and was only 16 percent contained.

    The fire had spread east to a remote part of the Army's Fort Hunter Liggett and was moving toward the incident command post Thursday. But winds were driving the flames away from inhabited areas of the military base, said Manny Madrigal, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

    Fort Hunter Liggett spokeswoman Helen Elrod said four families with homes near the base were evacuated, but the 5,000 military personnel who live there were not in immediate danger.

    Wildfires on Tuesday destroyed 32 homes in Stockton, about 50 miles south of Sacramento, and 21 homes in Palermo, about 60 miles north of the state capital.

    Meanwhile, a southeastern Colorado wildfire that started on a military training site doubled in size in one day and was threatening eight nearby ranches. On Thursday, about 242 firefighters were fighting the fire, which scorched more than 65 square miles of remote and rugged country.

    Military officials said Thursday the fire crossed the Purgatoire River, a natural fire break, and is now burning in surrounding federal, state and private land.

    Officials believe lightning sparked the blaze.

    The fire has not been contained at all and low humidity, high heat and gusting winds have hampered efforts to control the fire, said Capt. Gregory Dorman of Fort Carson.

    In Colorado's Crowley County, prosecutors have decided not to file criminal charges against a man accused of causing an April wildfire that killed two volunteer firefighters, destroyed 22 homes and burned 14 square miles of prairie grass.

    District Attorney Rod Fouracre said Wednesday that the fire was an accident.

    The Crowley County sheriff's office, however, planned to issue a summons to Sam Martson, who allegedly violated a county ordinance by not getting permission to start a prescribed burn on April 14, Fouracre said. Violations of the ordinance are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

    In far eastern North Carolina, smoke from a more than 60-square-mile wildfire was having a serious effect on air quality hundreds of miles away. The state issued a Code Red notice forecasting unhealthy air Thursday and Friday for the Triangle area of Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham, as well as the Rocky Mount area.

    Lightning ignited the blaze June 1 on privately owned land and it has burned in and around the Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge ever since. Firefighting officials say there is little they can do to extinguish the wildfire until a massive rainstorm falls.

    Associated Press Writers Don Thompson and Samantha Young in Sacramento, Jason Dearen in San Francisco and Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.


    Thick dark smoke rises over the valley floor as firefighters work to contain the Humboldt Fire which has grown to more than an 8000 acre fire on day two of the battle Thursday, June 12, 2008 in Paradise, Calif. Hot temperatures, steady winds and tinder-dry vegetation and trees have fueled separate blazes from Butte County north of Sacramento to the Los Padres National Forest in Monterey County.
    (AP Photo/Chico Enterprise-Record, Jason Halley) MANDATORY CREDIT

    Firefighters on Thursday battled a series of fast-growing wildfires burning across Northern California, including a wind-whipped blaze that destroyed at least 10 homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate.

    Authorities closed all roads to Paradise, a town of about 30,000 residents about 90 miles north of Sacramento, and ordered several thousand Butte County residents to leave their homes. An evacuation shelter was set up in nearby Chico.

    The blaze, which started Wednesday, had grown to nearly 30 square miles and threatened more than 5,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. More than 1,300 firefighters were trying to contain the blaze, which was only 10 percent contained Thursday evening.

    The fire had spread to the hills of the Butte College campus, where fire officials had set up their incident command center, said CDF spokesman Joshpae White.

    "The fire is jumping around quite a bit. It's flaring up in a lot of different areas," White said.

    Hot temperatures, steady winds and tinder-dry vegetation and trees have fueled blazes from Butte County to the Los Padres National Forest in Monterey County.

    In Santa Cruz County, about 900 firefighters were battling fast-moving wildfire that had grown to 700 acres and destroyed at least 10 homes in the Bonny Doon community, according to CDF. It was 25 percent contained Thursday evening.

    More than 1,500 residents have been told to evacuate their homes in the heavily forested hills about 10 miles northwest of Santa Cruz since the fire broke out Wednesday afternoon.

    James Eason, 28, a full-time caretaker for his quadriplegic dad Jim Eason, 63, said they spent Thursday hanging out with other evacuees in a supermarket parking lot after spending the night in a Red Cross shelter in Felton, several miles from the blaze.

    On Wednesday, they evacuated their $1,300-a-month yurt, a nearly uninsulated wooden-framed structure covered in canvas where they have lived for the past three months. They weren't able to check on their home Thursday and planned to spend another night at the shelter, which was moved to a middle school in nearby Scotts Valley.

    "It's stressful and frustrating, it makes you anxious not knowing if you're going to have a place to go back to," James Eason said. "All of a sudden, with the fire, the yurt doesn't seem so bad. We've started to like it a whole lot."

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Butte County late Wednesday to free up additional firefighting resources. He declared another one in Santa Cruz County early Thursday.

    Farther south, another wildfire had charred more than 28 square miles in the Los Padres National Forest and was 40 percent contained.

    The fire had spread east to a remote part of the Army's Fort Hunter Liggett and was moving toward the incident command post Thursday. But winds were driving the flames away from inhabited areas of the military base, said Manny Madrigal, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

    Fort Hunter Liggett spokeswoman Helen Elrod said four families with homes near the base were evacuated, but the 5,000 military personnel who live there were not in immediate danger.

    Meanwhile, a southeastern Colorado wildfire that started on a military training site doubled in size in one day and was threatening eight nearby ranches. On Thursday, about 242 firefighters were fighting the fire, which scorched more than 65 square miles of remote and rugged country.

    Military officials said Thursday the fire crossed the Purgatoire River, a natural fire break, and is now burning in surrounding federal, state and private land.

    Officials believe lightning sparked the blaze.

    The fire has not been contained at all and low humidity, high heat and gusting winds have hampered efforts to control the fire, said Capt. Gregory Dorman of Fort Carson.

    In Colorado's Crowley County, prosecutors have decided not to file criminal charges against a man accused of causing an April wildfire that killed two volunteer firefighters, destroyed 22 homes and burned 14 square miles of prairie grass.

    District Attorney Rod Fouracre said Wednesday that the fire was an accident.

    The Crowley County sheriff's office, however, planned to issue a summons to Sam Martson, who allegedly violated a county ordinance by not getting permission to start a prescribed burn on April 14, Fouracre said. Violations of the ordinance are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

    In far eastern North Carolina, smoke from a more than 60-square-mile wildfire was having a serious effect on air quality hundreds of miles away. The state issued a Code Red notice forecasting unhealthy air Thursday and Friday for the Triangle area of Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham, as well as the Rocky Mount area.

    Lightning ignited the blaze June 1 on privately owned land and it has burned in and around the Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge ever since. Firefighting officials say there is little they can do to extinguish the wildfire until a massive rainstorm falls.

    Associated Press Writers Don Thompson and Samantha Young in Sacramento, Jason Dearen in San Francisco and Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.

    On the Net: Fire information at






    Calif. wildfires threaten homes, force evacuations

    By JORDAN ROBERTSON, Associated Press Writer

    FELTON, Calif. - Hundreds of firefighters struggled to gain control of a series of wildfires burning across Northern California on Thursday, including a raging forest fire that forced hundreds to leave their homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

    The blaze in the Bonny Doon area about 10 miles northwest of Santa Cruz quickly grew to 700 acres after it broke around 3 p.m. Wednesday, and it was only 5 percent contained Thursday morning. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for 500 residents in the heavily forested hills. Voluntary evacuations were in place for another 1,000 residents.

    Nearly 800 firefighters were battling the blaze, which could spread to as many as 1,500 acres, Battalion Chief Paul Van Gerwen said.

    High winds pushed the blaze Wednesday; Thursday's weather was calmer but temperatures were quickly rising, with 90-degree weather expected.

    "It's getting hotter and drier. We'd like to see the humidity come up," Van Gerwen said.

    More than 50 people had arrived at the evacuation shelter at San Lorenzo Valley Middle School in Felton by Wednesday evening, said Red Cross spokeswoman Lindsay Segersin.

    Dana Price, 51, and her husband had just come home when they got the mandatory-evacuation call and quickly packed up their computers, musical instruments and pets — two dogs, a parakeet and a cat.

    "The sad thing is, as you're evacuating, you're walking around your house thinking, this might be the last time I see this picture, this might be the last time I'm doing this," she said.

    Hot temperatures and tinder-dry vegetation prevailed throughout Northern California, where hundreds of firefighters were deployed on fire lines from the North Coast wine country to the Central Valley.

    In Butte County, several hundred homes were evacuated ahead of a fast-growing wildfire near Chico, about 90 miles north of Sacramento. The blaze, which started around noon Wednesday, had grown to 6,000 acres and threatened about 1,650 structures. It was only about 10 percent contained Thursday morning.

    "We've had very active winds, low humidity and high heat. As you know, that's a recipe for disaster," said Joshpae White, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "It's very remarkable that no structures have been damaged. I think that's due to the very aggressive firefighting we've been able to do today."

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Butte County late Wednesday to free up additional firefighting resources. He declared another one in Santa Cruz County early Thursday.

    Farther south, the state's largest wildfire had charred more than 16,000 acres in the Los Padres National Forest and was only 16 percent contained.

    The fire had spread east to a remote part of the Army's Fort Hunter Liggett and was moving toward the incident command post Thursday. But winds were driving the flames away from inhabited areas of the military base, said Manny Madrigal, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

    Fort Hunter Liggett spokeswoman Helen Elrod said four families with homes near the base were evacuated, but the 5,000 military personnel who live there are not in immediate danger.

    Some training exercises also were moved because of smoke in the area, and the Army has evacuation plans if the fire moves closer, Elrod said.

    Wildfires on Tuesday destroyed 32 homes in Stockton, about 50 miles south of Sacramento, and 21 homes in Palermo, about 60 miles north of the state capital. Winds have decreased since then but the extreme fire danger was expected to last through Thursday.

    Meanwhile in southeastern Colorado's Crowley County, prosecutors have decided not to file criminal charges against a man accused of causing an April wildfire that killed two volunteer firefighters, destroyed 22 homes and burned 14 square miles of prairie grass.

    District Attorney Rod Fouracre, who completed the investigation, said Wednesday that the fire was an accident and involved no criminal causes.

    The Crowley County sheriff's office, however, planned to issue a summons to Sam Martson, who allegedly violated a county ordinance by not getting permission to start a prescribed burn on April 14, Fouracre said. Violations of the ordinance are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

    In far eastern North Carolina, smoke from a more than 60-square-mile wildfire was having a serious effect on air quality hundreds of miles away. The state Division of Air Quality issued a Code Red notice forecasting unhealthy air Thursday and Friday for the Triangle area of Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham, as well as the Rocky Mount area.

    Lightning ignited the blaze June 1 on privately owned land and it has burned in and around the Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge ever since. Firefighting officials say there is little they can do to extinguish the wildfire until a massive rainstorm falls.

    Associated Press Writers Don Thompson and Samantha Young in Sacramento, Jason Dearen in San Francisco and Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.


    Hi all:  While watching TV, starting about 11 a.m.  yesterday's fire weather warning came true.

    While I watched TV from 11 to 12, a fire that started near I-5 in the Sacramento area, spread from one house, to surrounding woods, to 5 more homes, threatened a condominium complex, and a mini-mall.
    They are still fighting it and the 22 mph winds are driving the fire eastward - at a really fast pace.

    Fast-moving California fire destroys 10 homes

    (CNN) -- An aggressive wildfire has burned 10 homes and spread across 3,000 acres in Northern California, officials said Thursday.

    A wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains is causing mandatory evacuations for neighboring homes.

    Flames were threatening at least 50 more homes, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

    About 200 children at a 4-H Club camp were told to take immediate shelter as high winds fanned the flames in the Santa Cruz mountains.

    The wildfire was burning in rugged terrain in Santa Clara County and moving south towards Santa Cruz County, south of San Francisco.

    About 190 people from the two counties had been evacuated, officials said.

    The Summit Fire began around 5:30 a.m. PT (8:30 a.m. ET) Thursday near Mount Madonna County Park in Santa Clara County.

    Five fixed-wing aircraft and four helicopters were dropping water on the fire, fanned by sustained winds of 15 mph to 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph.

    Officials ordered a so-called Supertanker, a jumbo jet modified to battle fires from the air.

    State fire officials said at least 149 firefighters but likely many more were battling the blaze, which is being fueled by dry brush. Strike teams from across Northern California were being mobilized.

    Aerial video footage from local TV station helicopters showed structures and vehicles engulfed.

    The Santa Cruz Mountains are dotted with multimillion-dollar homes.

    The Santa Clara and Santa Cruz sheriffs were handling evacuations.

    A Red Cross evacuation center was established at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, said Officer Dinah Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.

    CNN's Augie Martin contributed to this report.

    Wildfires hit homes in foreclosure capital

    Tue Jun 10, 2008 4:56pm EDT

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Four wildfires fanned by high winds destroyed seven houses, 20 condominium units and a small apartment building in Stockton, California, a city already reeling from one of the highest U.S. rates of mortgage foreclosures.

    Two firefighters suffered minor injuries but returned to battling the blaze amid gusting winds and high temperatures, Stockton Police spokesman Pete Smith said.

    Smith said authorities did not yet have a count for the number of people displaced by the fires and have yet to determine how they started.

    Stockton is a city of nearly 300,000 people and is about 70 miles east of San Francisco.

    (Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Eric Walsh)



    Wildfires erupt in Mondex: Helicopters help combat 200-acre blaze


    A wildfire that began in the Mondex area south of Palatka shortly after noon Monday soon engulfed almost 200 acres by 5 p.m.

    Originally two fires, the wind pushed the flames together and created one big cauldron of smoke and flame moving west. There was no immediate fear that any structures were threatened though, firefighters said. Officials are still looking into the cause.

    Observers traveling along State Road 19 could easily see the smoke above the tree line, and hear the thump of rotors as two helicopters and a fixed wing spotter aircraft performed continuous water drops.

    Up to 10 tractor crews were on scene, including two from St. Johns Water Management. The vehicles were concentrating efforts on the south flank of the fire, officials said, which was being whipped up by wind.
    Some heavy tractors were expected to arrive later in the evening to improve containment, which stood at 20 percent at 6 p.m.

    A command post was set up at the intersection of State Road 19 and Peniel Road on the northeast corner of the Mondex.

    Firefighters and trucks remained staged there, but were unable to help because of the lack or access roads and the intensity of the flames in the interior.

    Those gathered were hoping rain predicted for the evening would dampen the flames, but the storm apparently went around where it was needed.

    “We had a little thunderstorm, but it went off to the south of us,” said Quin Romay, emergency operations chief. “No rain so far.”

    Mark Fowler, a member of Southwest VFD and the incident commander, said a lot of work is still to be done before this fire will be considered safely contained.

    We’ll have crews working out here into the night until we know the fire won’t jump the lines,” he said Monday afternoon. “A lot of it is just going to depend on weather and time - how the weather works with us or works against us - and the ability of the (tractors) to get lines put around it so we can get in there with brush trucks and work that line.”

    At the same time as the Mondex erupted Monday afternoon, a second, smaller fire was reported on the side of the road off State Road 100 near Florahome.

    The blaze flared up in several small sections comprising less than an acre, but was quickly contained.

    “It’s pretty much out,” Romay said. “They’re working on fully mopping it up.”

    Investigators are still looking into the blaze, which they said was started by an incendiary device.

    Officials ask anyone who may have seen a suspicious vehicle or person on the side of the road to call 329-0379.



    COLUMBIA, N.C.  6-10-08

    (AP) A wildfire that's burned more than 31,000 acres in and around a North Carolina wildlife refuge is now 40 percent contained.

    Eastern North Carolina Wildfire Spreads North And East

    Posted by: Sarah Lanse, Web Producer     

    The fire destroyed 35,691 acres and is only 40% contained. It began June 1 from a lightning strike. 

    Columbia, NC -- The wildfires in eastern North Carolina spread to the north and east on Monday.

    The North Carolina Incident Management Team says the fire remained moderately active Monday night.

    The fire is 40% contained and 20 miles of containment lines need to be constructed or improved.

    Experts say the fire will continue to pose a challenge for firefighters Tuesday. They expect an increase in wind speed with gusts reaching 20 miles per hour in the afternoon.

    There are 337 people working to put the fire out. They come from as far away as Arizona.

    The costs to put out the fire increased to more than $1.1 million.

    The fire burned about 35,691 acres. It started from a lightning strike on June 1.

    Source: WFMY News 2

    Copyright: 2008 digtriad.com


    Firefighters struggle to gain control of Santa Cruz wildfire

    San Francisco  - A wind-driven fire burned out of control in the Santa Cruz mountains Thursday, destroying several homes and forcing numerous evacuations.

    The fire broke out in the early morning and fueled by 60 kilometre per hour winds quickly grew to over 800 hectares according to a spokesman for state fire-fighting agency CAL FIRE. The agency said that five houses had been burnt and at least 50 more were threatened in an area dotted with homes tucked in the scenic hills. Heavy brush and timber in forests that have not burned for decades were also contributing to the fire's ferocity.

    Heavy winds were hampering efforts to use aircraft to fight the fire from the air. Weather forecasts called for the continuation of the winds through Friday. (dpa)


    7:07 p.m. May 24, 2008

      GILROY, CA – Firefighters took advantage of cooler temperatures and calmer winds Saturday as they struggled to gain control of a wildfire that has burned centuries-old redwood forests, displaced hundreds of residents and destroyed at least 20 homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

    Strong overnight winds up to 45 miles per hour caused the blaze to grow to more than 3,800 acres and spread from Santa Cruz County to Santa Clara County early Saturday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention. About 50 homes in the small community of Sveadal near Uvas Canyon County Park were evacuated. Firefighting efforts were helped by lower temperatures, lighter winds and higher humidity Saturday, but officials were concerned that a possible storm could bring lightning and heavier drafts that could cause the fire to spread, Battalion Chief Dave Shew said.

    The fire was still only about 35 percent contained Saturday and was expected to grow to 4,000 acres before it's brought under control over the next week, fire officials said. Four firefighters have suffered minor injuries.

    The fire that started Thursday has destroyed 38 structures and threatens another 570 buildings in the mountainous region about 15 miles south of San Jose.

    “As long as we don't have this fire contained, then the homes are still threatened,” Shew said. “We don't consider this to be anywhere near contained. I wouldn't say we're out of the woods yet.”

    More than 3,000 personnel, seven air tankers, 12 helicopters and 144 fire engines were being deployed to battle the blaze. Crews were focused on building fire lines to keep the blaze from getting bigger, Shew said.

    Smoke from the wildfire has left a haze over the San Francisco Bay area that was expected to linger through the three-day Memorial Day weekend.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the Santa Cruz Mountains to assess the damage Friday and declared a state of emergency in Santa Cruz County to allow access to funds for the effort. On Saturday he declared a state of emergency in Santa Clara County after the fire jumped over into that county, burning what fire officials estimated was less than 300 acres there.

    About 2,000 residents have been asked or ordered to evacuate their homes since the fire started, and officials say it's still not safe for them to return, Shew said.

    The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

    Summit fire destroys animal sanctuary

    The flames from the recent Santa Cruz wildfire ravaged the Taj Meow Animal Sanctuary in Maymens Flat. An AP article describes the aftermath: "An unscathed bush of red roses was all that was left on the lot of one burned house with a sign in front that read "spoiled dogs live here."

    Chris Puett assesses what remains of his animal sanctuary.

    According to the article, of the approximately 120 dogs, cats and birds that owner Chris "Catman" Puett cared for — mostly abandoned pets — he's lost four dogs and 17 cats. Several cats have returned home ; some with minor burns. Many animals are still unaccounted for.

    "It's burnt to the ground," Puett said of the three-story building. "There was a pond, and the fish are all belly up. I'm just trying to round up the survivors."

    Meanwhile, Puett is already beginning to buy supplies and has plans to rebuild. He has left food and water out in the hopes that more animals will soon return home.

    If you would like to help Puett and his animal sanctuary, Humanity For Cats is accepting donations for building supplies, food, and other needed items on his behalf. Please visit humanityforcats.com. For donation drop offs call 408-997-9332.

    Posted By: Amelia Glynn (Email) | May 24 2008 at 03:44 PM


    Wildfire scorches Florida Everglades, prompts health warnings

    MIAMI — A massive and smoky wildfire continues to burn in the Florida Everglades, prompting health warnings across the southern part of the state.

    Smoke and fog advisories have been issued across South Florida.

    Officials say children, the elderly and people with breathing problems are being advised to stay indoors.

    Officials hope a rise in humidity will slow the spread of the outbreak, which has so far scorched almost 16,000 hectares of Everglades National Park.

    About 2,000 people from the Everglades Correctional Institution and the Krome Detention Center were relocated Monday to other facilities after the flames approached both facilities


    Florida governor declares wildfire emergency

    There are 82 separate wildfires in Florida today - 5-13-08



    Firefighters work to put out flames at a house in Malabar, Florida, early Monday.

    Seven to 10 structures, including some homes, have been destroyed by the largest of the fires, said Yvonne Martinez of the Palm Bay Fire Department.

    "The fire situation has been very unpredictable," she said. "The winds have basically caused what fires we had yesterday to jump a half a mile at a time."

    Martinez said three firefighters were injured -- including one who was airlifted from the scene -- but she did not know the nature of their injuries.

    Many residents have been asked to evacuate "because the situation is so unstable," said Martinez, adding that "hundreds" were affected.

    Children from two schools in Palm Bay were sent home early because of the threat of smoke and fire. Martinez said those schools likely would be closed Tuesday.

    Gov. Crist activated the National Guard to help battle the blazes and help with evacuations.

    Authorities believe the fire burning near Malabar and Palm Bay in Brevard County may have been started by arsonists, said Jim Eads of the Florida Division of Forestry.

    Martinez said a $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who may have set the fire.

    Two other fires in Brevard County burned about 200 acres in Cocoa, but were almost completely contained, authorities said.

    A separate blaze in Volusia County led to the evacuation of about 590 homes near LPGA Boulevard, and people in another 85 homes are on standby to evacuate, according to Fred Godawa of the Daytona Beach Fire Department.

    That fire has burned through 600 to 1,000 acres and is about 20 percent contained, Godawa said

    Dense smoke forced the closure of several roads, including I-95 for a seven-mile stretch in Brevard County near Malabar. The interstate was also closed for a short time Monday morning near Cocoa.

    "I got knots in my stomach," Cocoa resident Pam Hales told WKMG on Sunday. "My daughter cooked Mother's Day dinner and we have not been able to eat it. We tried to eat but nobody could eat."

    "You wonder if everything you've worked all of your life and built and if you are still going to have it," resident Tim Hales told the station.

    A man who lived close to a house that was destroyed in Malabar told CNN affiliate WESH the homeowners were out of town.

    "It's pretty devastating, especially when it's a friend of yours, when it's a neighbor caught in something like this," he told the station.

    On Monday morning, officials called in 100 additional firefighters to battle the blazes in Brevard County, said Pamela Keil with the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

    High winds in the area threatened to aid the fires, said Timber Weller of the Division of Forestry.

    "Weather conditions are making the situation ripe for an extreme fire," he said.

    CNN's Nick Valencia contributed to this report. CNN's Patty Lane and Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report

    All About Wildfires Florida

    (CNN) -- Florida Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency Monday as wildfires fed by drought conditions threatened homes and businesses and forced the closing of part of Interstate 95 in Brevard County.


    Firefighters battle 2,100-acre wildfire near Kitt Peak, AZ

    Associated Press - May 12, 2008 2:14 PM ET

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Fire crews are moving toward containing a wildfire that has charred more than 2,100 acres in southern Arizona's Baboquivari Mountains.

    Fire spokesman Bill Watt says the Solano fire was 40% contained as of early Monday. No structures are threatened and no injuries have been reported.

    The fire was started by people Friday morning about seven miles south of Kitt Peak on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation.

    Officials say it is burning mostly on Bureau of Land Management land near the Baboquivari Wilderness Area.

    About 290 people, including six Hot Shot crews, are working to ensure containment lines will hold up against high winds forecast for Monday.

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


    Wildfire in central New Mexico fully contained

    09:12 PM CDT on Sunday, May 11, 2008
    Associated Press

    MANZANO, N.M. – A wildfire that burned 59 homes and more than 21 square miles in central New Mexico's Manzano Mountains was fully contained Sunday.

    Fire information officer Linda Kearns said about 218 people will remain at the fire to watch isolated hot spots and islands of fuel in the interior.

    Fire information officer Jim Payne said fire crews flew over the burned area Sunday, checking the lines. Firefighters on the ground also continued cleaning up, looking for hot spots and reseeding burned areas.

    "There's been smoke showing far into the interior of the fire and of course we're remaining vigilant to make sure there's no spotting over the lines. The fire is very inactive right now," Payne said.

    Firefighters had thought the blaze was nearing containment late last month when winds gusting up to 60 mph sent debris flying over the containment lines and grounded aircraft who could have dropped water and retardant from the air. The blaze then burned 50 homes and forced hundreds of people to evacuate.

    This time, fire crews are taking no chances.

    "We are staying for a few more days. We are not going to transition out just yet," Payne said.

    Fighting the fire, which started April 15, has cost more than $10.7 million.

    20-acre wildfire burning in northern Arizona Associated Press - May 12, 2008 7:24 PM ET

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Firefighters hope to contain a 20-acre wildfire by Monday night that is burning less than a half-mile from a housing community northeast of Flagstaff.

    Coconino National Forest spokeswoman Karen Malis-Clark said Monday there is no immediate threat to the homes in Doney Park.

    She added that the 50-person crew is making good progress toward containing the Elden Springs fire, which is just west of U.S. Highway 89.

    Authorities have closed a local road, preventing some residents from getting to their homes.

    The fire was first reported Monday morning. The cause is still under investigation.

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


    Wildfire Meant Close Calls For Homes
    Updated: May 11, 2008 05:05 PM PST



    EL PASO COUNTY - Losing a home to a fire is difficult for most of us to comprehend--but if anyone can relate, it's the many homeowners who came dangerously close to losing their homes and other property in Saturday's wildfire in El Paso County.

    "We'll all remember where we were during the Mother's Day weekend fire of 2008," remarked Doug Schmillen.  The flames came to within 25 feet of his home on Peyton Highway near Ellicott, kept at bay by a firefighter's hose.  Schmillen was at work in Black Forest when his son phoned him about the fire.  "It was pretty surprising.  He asked me what I wanted out of the house.  At the time, I didn't know what was going on."

    Doug's wife, Debra, was at home with her son when the wildfire began to spread.  "We'd just got done having lunch, and I went over to the kitchen sink, and looked out the kitchen window and saw the fire."  The two left briefly to see which direction the flames were heading, only to receive an immediate evacuation order from authorities.  Debra and her son grabbed family photos, important documents and their cat before leaving.  They watched the fire advance from a short distance away.

    "It was a great feeling when the smoke cleared, and I could see the house still standing," Doug recalls.  He says he believed his home and workshop would not be damaged because they are made of stucco and tin.  Still, he confesses, "My mind was telling me everything was okay, but my stomach was turning in knots.  I wish I was there doing something.  But when I saw it going across the prairie in leaps and bounds, it would have been crazy to stick around."

    The Schmillens praised firefighters for their work in helping to save their home.  "We saw there were two of them," says Debra.  "One was in the driveway, the other one was back here, driving around and putting out fires.  There were people you could see walking around.  They did a very good job.  I'm impressed.  It's a very good Mother's Day present."


    Crews battle northern Nevada wildfire 10:00 a.m. May 9, 2008

      DAYTON, Nev. – Firefighters have reported progress in their battle against a 470-acre wildfire that's burning in sage grouse habitat in the northern end of the Pine Nut Mountains near Dayton.

    Kat Gonzales of the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center in Minden said the fire around Rawe Peak, near the ghost town of Como, was 40 percent contained Friday morning.

    No homes were threatened, and no injuries were reported.

    Gonzales said Friday's plans called for a heavy attack by air tankers and helicopters on the blaze, about 17 miles east of Carson City.

    Crews are facing steep, rugged terrain as the fire is being fueled by a heavy growth of sagebrush, and pinion and juniper trees, she said.

    The fire was human caused and remains under investigation, authorities said.

    Wildfires, development and industry have steadily cut into the habitat of sage grouse, a bird about the size of a chicken that is found on sagebrush plains and high desert from Colorado to California and north into southern Canada.

    The federal government is under a judge's order to reconsider an earlier decision against listing the sage grouse as endangered, and the fate of grazing, mining and energy soon could be at least partially tied to that of the bird.


    Wildfire contained; 1 home burned, 50 evacuated - El Paso, TX

    written by: Colleen Locke , Producer  

    reported by: Kyle Clark , Reporter   EL PASO COUNTY –

    The El Paso County Sheriff's Office says a wildfire that burned around 9,000 acres near the Schriever Air Force Base Saturday is contained.

    The fire is between 85 and 90 percent under control. Firefighters remained on the scene Saturday night putting out hot spots.

    According to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, one home burned. An unknown number of other structures also burned.

    "We lost three buildings and these cars and this friend's motor home," homeowner Richard Baughman told 9NEWS.

    Around 50 people were evacuated, according to the sheriff's office. Earlier, firefighters with the Falcon Fire Protection District had said the number of those evacuated was "several hundred."

    No one was hurt.

    "The wind gusts were very, very strong and consistent. They did change directions on us a couple of times," said Lt. Lari Sevene with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. "They would think they had it under control had it stopped at a certain road and before the fire crews could get down and get in front of it would jump across the road and continue to burn."

    "They got a lot of people spread out, but how do you go in five different directions at the same time?" said homeowner Tim Melson.
    The fire, which started at Highway 94 and Page Road, had reached Peyton Highway and Enoch Road by 2 p.m. Saturday.

    At 4:30 p.m., Peyton Highway was closed from Highway 94 to Drennan Road. Enoch Road was closed from Highway 94 to Peyton Highway, according to the Falcon Fire Protection District.

    The cause of the fire is unknown, although there is a possibility it was started by a cigarette thrown from a car.

    (Copyright KUSA*TV, All Rights Reserved


    764-acre wildfire burns in San Jacinto Mountains

    2:56 p.m. April 30, 2008

    MOUNTAIN CENTER – Southern California's early wildfire season continued Wednesday as a 764-acre blaze burned uncontained in the San Jacinto Wilderness of the San Bernardino National Forest.

    The fire burned eastward in heavy brush high on remote Apache Peak near Pacific Crest Trail, about six miles east of the Riverside County community of Mountain Center, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

    Only hand crews were fighting the fire, which erupted Tuesday 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

    Meanwhile, cool, moist weather helped firefighters mop up remnants of a 584-acre wildfire that last weekend threatened the city of Sierra Madre in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains 15 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

    Relative humidity reached 100 percent overnight, aiding more than 920 firefighters still working the scene.

    The burn area was 88 percent contained and officials hoped for full containment by Friday or earlier, said Angeles National Forest fire information officer Stephanie Vela.

    The Sierra Madre blaze erupted Saturday during a brief siege of record-setting heat. The cause remained under investigation.


    Wildfire Spreading, Threatening Homes

    Wednesday , April 30, 2008    Posted: 07:07 PM

    SanIsidroFire, Texas

    UPDATE: People being evacuated near Highway 281 along Encino.

    BROOKS COUNTY - Homes are being threatened as a major grassfire continues to burn north of Hidalgo County, TX.

    NEWSCHANNEL 5 is getting word that the fire could be at least three miles long and three miles wide. The blaze was first reported around 3:30 p.m.

    It initially started near FM 755, about 10 miles north of San Isidro. Now the flames have spread to three different ranches and are threatening three to four homes.

    Hidalgo County Emergency Manager Tony Pena says they haven't even started to make a dent in the fire.

    Although the wildfire isn't threatening Hidalgo County, many of the county's resources are being used to fight the fire. Firefighters from several Valley cities were called in.

    Fire crews also responded to a second grass fire on North Highway 281 and FM 755 near Rachal. That's located just north of the Linn-San Manuel area.

    Since several fire departments were responding to the first fire, firefighters from Falfurrias responded to the second fire. We're told U.S. Fish and Wildlife game wardens are also assisting.

    There's no word on yet how the second blaze began or how much land has burned.


    Grand Canyon wildfire 60 percent-contained

    Thu May 1, 2008
    PHOENIX (Reuters) - A wildfire burning out of control toward the Grand Canyon was largely contained late on Wednesday, forest service officials said.

    Fire crews with trucks, bulldozers and aircraft achieved "60 percent containment" of the so-called X Fire that blazed a trail through the Kaibab National Forest in northern Arizona toward the Grand Canyon, the forest service said.

    The blaze, which broke out on Tuesday, had burned 2,030 acres (820 hectares) of pine forest, grassland and sage brush, fanned by strong winds and dry conditions.

    Firefighters contained the fire more than a mile (1.6 km) south of the Grand Canyon National Park boundary and were preparing to begin "mopping up" on Thursday, the forest service said in a news release.

    The park remained open throughout the day, although a campground was shut indefinitely, and several forest roads and a trail were closed temporarily.

    The Grand Canyon is one of the biggest tourist draws in the United States, and attracts 5 million visitors a year.

    update 4-30-08

    Fire Consumes 2,000 Acres South of Reno

    By Andrew Duncan
    14:20, April 30th 2008

    A wind-driven fire consumed an estimated 2,000 acres, or more than 3 square miles, about 10 miles south of Reno, caused the evacuation of a school, threatened homes, forced a major highway to close. Firefighters had to contend with gale-force winds while battling the huge blaze that raced along the edge of valley south of Reno, the Associated Press reported.

    More than 350 firefighters participated in the mission and about a dozen needed treatment after the winds gusting up to 68 mph blew dirt, ash and cinders in their eyes, Reno Fire Department spokesman Steve Frady said Tuesday night. Five firefighters were taken to hospital.

    The Skinner Fire started just before 2 p.m. and was pushed north toward Pleasant Valley and Andrew Lane before moving east away from homes, Steve Frady said.

    "It was gusting, really pushing hard. We were getting dust in our eyes continuously," Frady was quoted diminished a little bit, so that may help us out."

    There were no reports of any other injuries or damage to homes although the blaze surrounded three homes in the hills between Washoe Valley and Pleasant Valley. Some vehicles on Willbuck Road may have been burned, Frady said. Students at Pleasant Valley Elementary School were evacuated on buses to Galena High School on Reno's south side.

    The fire has not destroyed visitor facilities at Grand Canyon National Park and was not threatening structures or the community of Tusayan, south of the Grand Canyon, said Jacqueline Denk, a spokeswoman for the Kaibab National Forest according to the AP.

    High winds fan wildfire near Reno, Nevada; California fire quieter


    RENO, Nev. (AP) — A wildfire fanned by winds gusting up to 68 mph raced along the edge of a valley south of Reno on Tuesday, threatening homes and spreading thick smoke over the area.

    About 300 firefighters were on the line, battling stiff winds and thick smoke that could be seen 30 miles away. The fire had burned about 1,200 acres and was growing quickly. The National Weather Service reported 42 mph sustained winds with higher gusts.

    "The winds have been horrible" but were diminishing by late evening, Reno fire spokesman Steve Frady told The Associated Press from the scene.

    Some homes were threatened but there were no immediate reports any had burned in the sparsely populated area on the north edge of Washoe Valley about 10 miles from Reno.

    "The crews are having a hard time holding onto even their gear. Their hard hats are blowing around. Sage brush is blowing into them. It's pretty intense up there," Forest Service spokesman Franklin Pemberton said.

    Students at Pleasant Valley Elementary School were bused to another school because of the conditions. The suspected cause of the fire was power lines downed by the high winds.

    "The whole valley is full of smoke, the winds are terrible," said David Jones, who lives near the fire and was helping neighbors load up horses to be hauled away in trailers. "The hills are full of cheat grass so we're all worried about that."

    Dozens of fire engines surrounded homes in the area. Three to four homes were potentially in the path of the fire as it burned to the north-northeast.

    "So far, it's skirted those homes," Frady said.

    In Arizona, crews were battling a 2,000-acre wildfire inside the Kaibab National Forest near the Grand Canyon. Strong winds were driving the fire, said Jacqueline Denk, a spokeswoman for the Kaibab National Forest.

    "The bad news is we are expecting very high winds and difficult conditions tomorrow (Wednesday) as well," Denk said.

    The fire has not destroyed any buildings or was immediately threatening any structures or the community of Tusayan, south of the Grand Canyon, Denk said.

    A smoke column from the fire was visible from the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and Tusayan. Authorities believe the X Fire was human-caused. A fire investigator was sent to the scene to determine the specific cause.

    In Southern California, firefighters extended containment lines and stamped out hotspots as calmer weather conditions prevailed at a 538-acre wildfire that earlier threatened homes.

    About 1,000 people were told they could return to homes they fled since the fire started Saturday. Public schools also reopened in Sierra Madre, about 15 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

    Containment was estimated at 57 percent, and about 1,000 firefighters were busy extending the line around the burn area and dousing burning stumps and hot ash.

    "There's no major flames or smoke showing on the fire," said Robert Brady, fire information officer with the U.S. Forest Service. "No smoke showing means that a lot of the heat is gone and that's good."

    Weather was cooler, winds were light and the humidity was higher Tuesday than in recent days. Highs were in the 70s rather than the 90s that firefighters had faced earlier.

    At the same time, Reno is undergoing swarms of earthquakes

    North Lde Mountain Hand Crew and an engine from the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District are responding to a wildfire in the Washoe Valley.

    Steve Frady, spokesman for the Reno Fire Department, confirmed a brush fire started near Eastlake Boulevard in Washoe Valley.

    Chief Mike Brown of the NLTFPD said the hand crew, an engine and overhead were headed down to respond to the wildland fire.

    Brown said the crew is fighting the fire on both the East and West sides of U.S. Route 395 between the Pleasant and Washoe Valleys.

    Brown said his firefighters are reporting 40-50 m.p.h winds.

    SW Idaho crews battle season's first wildfire

    The Associated Press
    Posted: 6:29 AM- BOISE, Idaho - Fire crews in southwest Idaho are off to an early start in the 2008 wildfire season.

        Crews from the Bureau of Land Management on Sunday battled a 30-acre grass and brush fire four miles south of the Swan Falls dam.

        Investigators say the blaze started from a campfire.

        Carrie Bilbao, a BLM fire investigator, says despite a steady diet of winter snow, many rangeland areas are currently very dry. Light spring rains and dead vegetation from last year have created dry conditions on lands the agency manages across southwest Idaho.

        Agency officials are urging campers to use caution and care with campfires under the current conditions.

    Wildfire ignites near Idyllwild, visible in Palm Springs

    By Colin Atagi • The Desert Sun • April 29, 2008

    Firefighters who are hiking to a blaze burning near Idyllwild this evening are less than a mile from the scene as of 9:50 p.m., U.S. Forest

    The agency reported about 8 p.m. that the fire in the San Jacinto Mountains burned about 1.5 acres.

    Although it's likely the fire has grown since then, its actual size will not be known until firefighters arrive at the scene and survey the area, according to officials.

    Smoke and flames from the wildfire are visible across the Coachella Valley tonight.

    The fire can be seen at least as far east as La Quinta and was even more visible at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains.

    “It’s coming down the ridge over on to our side of the mountain ... very high up ... but we can see it and certainly smell it from Andreas Hills,” said Marie Weigel in an e-mail to The Desert Sun. She is wife of Palm Springs City Councilman Lee Weigel, who lives in the Indian Canyons area.

    The fire was reported about 4:35 p.m., U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Valerie Baca said.

    Firefighters are hiking 3.5 miles, starting at Keenwild Station, on the Pacific Crest Trail to reach the blaze in the Apache Peak area, she said.

    They are expected to remain at the scene all night and continue their battle Wednesday morning.

    Temperatures are expected to be in the low 50s this morning with 11 mph winds in the Idyllwild area, according to AccuWeather.

    Winds blew about 26 mph in 60-degree temperatures this evening.

    A helicopter and air tanker were used to battle the fire this afternoon but had to be grounded.

    “The weather caused some problems for us,” Baca said.

    Officials expect to launch the aircraft again Wednesday morning, Baca said.

    As of 9:15 p.m., Cal Fire crews have not been called in to assist with the fire, officials there said.

    Visit mydesert.com for more updates on the fire throughout the day.


    Battle against stubborn California wildfire enters 4th day

    SIERRA MADRE, Calif. (AP) — Lower temperatures and increased manpower on Tuesday allowed firefighters to tame much of a three-day-old wildfire that had gotten perilously close to dozens of homes and led hundreds of people to evacuate.

    The fire in the rugged San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles was 57 percent contained early Tuesday after covering 538 acres, or less than a square mile.

    Most of the more than 1,000 people evacuated from their homes had been allowed to return and public schools in the community of about 11,000 residents were reopening Tuesday. No homes have been lost in Sierra Madre, 15 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

    A cool front moved into the area after three days of temperatures in the 90s. Tuesday's highs were expected to stay in the 70s. Humidity had increased and there was almost no wind Tuesday morning.

    Flames moved close to homes early Monday but firefighters stood their ground and turned the flames back.

    More than 1,050 firefighters were expected to be on fire lines Tuesday, up from 700 on Monday, said Ed Gililland of the U.S. Forest Service.

    Four firefighters suffered minor injuries, authorities said. One small outbuilding was destroyed.

    The cause of the blaze, which broke Saturday, remained under investigation.

    Elsewhere, crews in central New Mexico had declared 95 percent containment on a blaze that has burned nine weekend or summer homes and several outbuildings. The fire blackened 4,832 acres, or 7.5 square miles. Officials at one point urged a voluntary evacuation of the communities of Manzano and Torreon, but few people heeded the call.


    California wildfire rages, 1,000 people evacuated

    Sun Apr 27, 2008 5:46pm EDT

    LOS ANGELES, April 27 (Reuters) - A wildfire that began along a popular hiking trail forced 1,000 people to evacuate their homes in the hills northeast of Los Angeles on Sunday, officials said.

    The cause of the nearly 400-acre (162 hectares) fire, which started Saturday afternoon as Southern California logged near-record temperatures, was still under investigation, said Elisa Weaver, a spokeswoman for the city of Sierra Madre, California.

    Fifty people celebrating a wedding at a mountain campground were lifted from the area by helicopter after the fire cut off their exit trail. No one in the group was harmed.

    Temperatures ere expected to climb to 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius) on Sunday. Low winds and humidity, however, were expected to help the firefighting effort.

    "A lot of that area hasn't burned in 40 years, but the weather has been on our side," Weaver said.

    Between 400 and 500 homes were under a mandatory evacuation order, Weaver said, though only one building -- a small storage shed -- had been burned.

    The blaze was expected to take up to four or five days to contain fully.

    About 400 firefighters were assigned to the fire, which was about 5 percent contained early Sunday morning. Water-dropping
    airplanes and helicopters were also fighting the blaze.

    Sierra Madre is about 20 miles (32 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

    Late last year, strong winds, high temperatures and parched brush after a record drought were blamed for spreading a series of blazes from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border that destroyed thousands of buildings and drove hundreds of thousands of Californians from their homes. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Philip Barbara)

    100 homes evacuated as SoCal wildfire creeps toward town

    SIERRA MADRE, Calif. (AP) — Authorities were evacuating 100 homes as a 100-acre wildfire crept closer to neighborhoods near Pasadena on a hot, dry Saturday in Southern California, authorities said.

    The fire about broke out Saturday afternoon and earlier forced the evacuation of a scout camp and left hikers temporarily stranded, said Elisa Weaver of the Arcadia Fire Department.

    Firefighters had hoped to have the blaze contained Sunday, Weaver said, but it was still burning out of control late Saturday night.

    Fire crews were aided by a dozen engines, three water tankers and three helicopters as they take on the blaze, Weaver said.

    Two shelters have been set up in the area for evacuees.

    The blaze was reported just after 1:40 p.m. in a wooded area off Santa Anita Canyon Road about 10 miles northeast of Pasadena, Weaver said.

    The flames brought the evacuation of the Trask Boy Scout camp and left about 100 hikers stranded in a parking lot near Chantry Flats, Weaver said.

    Most of the Boy Scouts had already left the camp by the time the evacuation was ordered, Weaver said.

    The hikers were escorted out of the forest by sheriff's deputies, she said. No injuries were reported.

    The fire was moving mostly northward, away from homes, but had crept far enough to the south to prompt the mandatory home evacuations.

    Flames outlined steep ridges about a mile above Sierra Madre, a San Gabriel Mountains foothill community of about 11,000 popular with artists.


    Wildfire inches closer to California homes

    SIERRA MADRE, California (AP) -

    4-26-08- A wildfire in Southern California that has scorched 270 acres and forced the evacuation of about 100 homes in neighborhoods might not be under control for days, officials said Sunday

    Firefighters originally had hoped to have the blaze contained Sunday, but gusting winds late Saturday night kept the fire burning out of control and creeping toward nearby homes, said Elisa Weaver of the Arcadia Fire Department.

    The mandatory evacuation order came shortly before 11 p.m. The fire broke out on a hot, dry Saturday afternoon about 10 miles northeast of Pasadena, Weaver said.

    More than 100 hikers were escorted out of a forest by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, and Boy Scouts were evacuated from a camp, Weaver said. No injuries were reported.

    Containment was not expected for two to three days, Weaver said.

    "I think the biggest concern is this area ... has not burned in 10-plus years, so there's a lot of fuel up there for this fire," Weaver said.

    More than 200 firefighters were aided by a dozen engines, three water tankers and three helicopters as they took on the blaze, Weaver said. She said more air support was expected later Sunday morning.

    "They plan on hitting this thing at full force as soon as dawn hits," Weaver said.

    Meanwhile, two shelters have been set up in the area for evacuees.

    Flames outlined steep ridges about a mile above Sierra Madre, a community of about 11,000 at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains that is popular with artists.

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved


    Wildfire Scorches 1,100 Acres In Page

    20 Structures Threatened But Unharmed By Blaze
    By Pete DeLea

    STANLEY - In a small, gravel lot in downtown Stanley, residents Sam Holt and Mike Uram peered at a massive wildfire that interrupted their usual scenic view of the mountain landscape.

    A controlled burn by a Lucas Hollow Road resident burned out of control Thursday night, and by Friday morning the fire had spread to 1,100 acres, fire officials said. Firefighters finally got the upper hand in the afternoon by creating a back-burn, which eventually knocked the blaze out.

    "There was white smoke just rolling from the bottom. It was unbelievable," said Holt, who stood there and watched the fire for about 45 minutes Friday afternoon. "It just gradually came together."

    Uram said he woke up to see a ring of smoke in the distance and knew the fire must have been large.

    "Things happen, but you don't want to see this," said Uram, who brought his camera with him to take photos of the blaze, which had caught the attention of many of Stanley's residents.

    One-Acre Fire Quickly Spread

    At about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Stanley Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call for a small brush fire.

    Chief Terry Pettit said firefighters began to attack the fire but it spread too quickly, consuming private land between Lucas Hollow and Keystone roads, about a mile outside of Shenandoah National Park.

    "It was too dangerous to go after," Pettit said.

    After the fire department realized how severe the fire was, they called in the Virginia Department of Forestry, which took over control of the scene.

    Steve Moyer, a forest technician for the department, said he thought his crews would be able to get control of the fire quickly because there were roads on either side of the blaze.

    But, Moyer said, he and his crews would soon realize that wouldn't be the case.

    "If we could have found a place to put lines down we would have been fine," Moyer said. "But when you have 50-, 60-, 70-foot flames shooting up, you can't put people in front of that. We had to back off."

    He said several tractor-trailers with bulldozers were called in to the scene so firefighters could fight the blaze with land-moving equipment.

    Blaze Threatened 20 Homes

    Meanwhile, the blaze continued to grow and began to threaten homes, so Stanley firefighters started protecting the structures.

    "We have been protecting about 20 structures," Pettit said.

    Helping Stanley were crews from Luray, about a dozen firefighters from the Forestry Department and members of the Augusta Hot Shots, a wilderness firefighting team based in Augusta Springs. In total, Pettit said about 50 firefighters helped battle the fire.

    "The fire company's job is to protect the structures while the department of forestry puts out the fire."

    Anthony Owen Gochenoul, 18, lived at one of the homes on Keystone Road. Only the road separated his house from flames.

    "It's scary, but I didn't think it was going to cross the road," he said, adding that he's seen larger fires in the area. "Last time, it was blowing toward here a lot more."

    Pettit said the fire department was on the scene from Thursday evening until about 1:30 a.m. Friday. Stanley firefighters returned about 6 a.m. after a flare-up put more homes in danger.

    Pettit said the fire department's job was to spray down the areas around the homes, and, depending on the type of roof, sprayed the houses with foam.

    He said local firefighters with the assistance of the forestry department created back-burns away from the buildings.

    "This isn't our first fire this large," said Pettit, who added there have been four or five fires this size in roughly the same location in the last decade. "We do have experience behind us that helps."

    Firefighters Gain Control

    At about 1 p.m. the fire and back-burn collided and the blaze was extinguished, except for minor hot spots in the wooded area.

    No homes were damaged.

    Moyer said the person who started the fire could be charged with a criminal violation, but most likely will be held responsible for the cost of fighting the fire. No cost estimate was available Friday.

    Holt said he was glad to see the fire dwindle.

    "If there was a heavy breeze, it could have spread a lot," said Holt. "Good thing there was no real intense wind today."

    Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or pdelea@dnronline.com

    Hundreds battling huge N.M. wildfire


    MANZANO, N.M. (AP) — Firefighters have been able to make some progress against a blaze that has charred an estimated 4,875 acres in the Manzano Mountains.

    "So far they've been able to hold the line, but there's still a lot of heat on the ground," said fire information officer Deanna Younger.

    There are 506 people assigned to the blaze, along with four air tankers, five helicopters and more than a dozen engines. The cost of fighting the blaze is $4.5 million so far.

    The fire was 53% contained late Thursday, and crews planned to continue concentrating on the northern and southern sides Friday, said fire information officer Dan Bastion. He said more wind was forecast for Friday.

    Ground crews were helped Thursday by water-dropping helicopters. The air tankers that have been instrumental in the fight over the last couple of days were grounded by noon because of strong winds, Younger said.

    The fire burned nine homes, nine outbuildings and two recreational vehicles. It has been burning in mainly oak brush and pinon, juniper and ponderosa pine trees.

    Investigators believe the fire was human caused.

    Cibola National Forest officials said the Sandia and Mountainair ranger districts will be under increased fire restrictions beginning Monday because of the severe dry conditions in the area. Campfires and coal and wood stoves will be prohibited.

    Another fire has burned nearly 25,000 acres of desert grass and shrubs on mostly private ranch land on the eastern portion of New Mexico's bootheel.

    "It's just kind of sitting out there by itself, not really bothering anybody," said Dan Ware, state Forestry Division spokesman.

    The Center Peak Fire started April 14, probably from an abandoned campfire south of Animas, he said. No structures are threatened.

    The Forestry Division is monitoring the fire by air, and ranch personnel are monitoring it on the ground, Ware said.

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

    N.M. crews fighting wildfire face 2nd day of windy weather

    MANZANO, N.M. (AP) — Firefighters braced for windy weather Monday as they battled a wildfire that had dashed between two towns in central New Mexico.

    More crews poured into the area during the night and additional air tankers were ordered, officials said.

    The blaze was 30 percent contained Monday after charring nearly six square miles, or 3,745 acres, between Manzano and Torreon, fighters reported.

    Voluntary evacuations remained in effect Monday for the two towns southeast of Albuquerque, although few people paid any heed, said Deanna Younger, lead fire information officer with the New Mexico Type II Incident Management Team.

    "We can't force people to leave their homes," she said.

    The National Weather Service said a red flag warning remained in effect Monday for parts of the state, with low humidity and wind up to 30 mph possible in the afternoon with gusts up to 50 mph.

    Crews used bulldozers during the night to cut fire breaks around the blaze.

    "We still have some areas that are unstable," Younger said. "We will have red flag (windy) conditions again today ... and the danger factor is still there. It's a critical day as far as fire suppression goes."

    On Sunday, wind-driven flames jumped a fire line and crossed the Cibola National Forest boundary onto private land, Younger said.

    Officials urged people to leave about 130 homes around Manzano and Torreon on Sunday, but few left.

    "They were standing there right in the middle of town watching it go past the town," Younger said.

    There was no confirmation whether any buildings had burned because crews could not get into some areas to check, Younger said.

    Firefighters completely contained a fire Wednesday near Weed, in southern New Mexico, that burned about 640 acres, fire information officer Margo Whitt said.


    N. Michigan wildfire burns 6 homes, forces I-75 closed

    GRAYLING, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a wildfire in northern Michigan has burned six homes and forced part of Interstate 75 to close.

    Up to 20 homes have been evacuated. No injuries have been reported.

    Authorities say a patrolling U.S. Forest Service helicopter spotted the fire after it started Thursday near Grayling about 175 miles north of Detroit.

    Brisk winds, dry, warm conditions and abundant jack pine trees aided the fire's spread across 1,100 acres, or nearly 2 square miles.

    But Michigan Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Mary Detloff says the flames have slowed as it nears a wetland and golf course.

    Federal, state and local firefighters have the blaze about 30 percent contained. The cause wasn't known.


    Grayling-area wildfire under control

    Friday, April 25, 2008 | 5:58

    (04/25/08)--More than 1,000 acres in Northern Michigan were on fire Thursday into Friday. The wildfire forced the evacuation of 50 homes on Thursday just south of Grayling in Crawford County.

    That's 100 miles north of Saginaw. The Department of Natural Resources say the forest fire blew across I-75.

    The DNR says the fire damaged six homes. Friday afternoon, it was mostly contained, but was still burning.

    Officials say the fire started near the interstate, sparked by several small fires around a railroad line

    Overnight drizzle helped fire crews get a hold of the 1,100 acres smoldering Some of the 50 residents evacuated were back home Friday.

    The forest fire forced the closure of I-75 Thursday. It re-opened around midnight. A DNR transport vehicle was destroyed. No one has been hurt.

    Brisk winds and dry, warm conditions and abundant jack pine trees helped the fire spread.

    A U.S. Forest Service helicopter spotted the fire. Officials say Northern Michigan is considered a prime location for wildfires because of dry weather and high winds.

    This wildfire may be the tip of the ice berg for what's to come.

    (Copyright ©2008 WJRT-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)


    Wildfire engulfs 27 acres in New Hampshire


    (NECN) - A large wildfire was burning on the slopes of Mount Major in Alton, New Hampshire Friday afternoon.

    Firefighters from southern and central New Hampshire have been battling the blaze since late Thursday. By noon Friday it had spread across 27 acres, and was still burning out of control.

    Helicopters air-lifted water from nearby Lake Winnipesaukee to dump on the fire.

    Mount Major is popular hiking mountain, boasting spectacular views of the Lake. Trails remain closed while the fire is burning.


    Pilot issued maydays before crashing at wildfire

    Reported by: ABC15.com staff
    Last Update: 4/23 6:34 pm

    posted by: Jeffrey Wolf , Web Producer  

    created: 4/24/2008 4:59:33 PM FORT CARSON – The pilot killed when his plane crashed during a wildfire at Fort Carson called in a series of maydays and said, "I'm going down," just seconds after dropping retardant on the fire.
      That is according to a preliminary investigation report by the NTSB into the crash that killed 42-year-old Gert Marais of Montana on April 15.

    Marais was based in Sterling.

    The report does not pinpoint the cause of the crash. The NTSB says that process could take several months.

    The fire was contained on Wednesday after it burned about 14 square miles at a remote part of Fort Carson

    (Copyright KUSA*TV. All rights reserved.)

    NTSB Issues Preliminary Report On CO Air Tanker Downing

    Fri, 25 Apr '08

    Says Pilot Made Series Of Mayday Calls Before Impact

    It's sad enough when we must report on the loss of a pilot's life. It's even harder to bear when it appears the pilot in question saw his end coming... Ed.

    NTSB Identification: DEN08GA076
    14 CFR Public Use
    Accident occurred Tuesday, April 15, 2008 in Fort Carson, CO
    Aircraft: Air Tractor AT-602, registration: N602AA
    Injuries: 1 Fatal.

    This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

    On April 15, 2008, approximately 1810 mountain daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-602 single-engine air tanker airplane, N602AA, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Fort Carson, Colorado. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated by the Department of Defense, Fort Carson, Colorado, for public use firefighting missions, and registered to Aero-Applicators, Inc., Sterling, Colorado. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company flight plan was filed. The flight originated from a private airstrip in Sterling, Colorado.

    According to the registered owner, they were contacted by the Colorado State Forest Service Pueblo dispatch and requested to assist with aerial fire suppression efforts at the 9,800-acre Training Area 25 wildfire near Fort Carson, Colorado. The airplanes departed a private airstrip near Sterling, Colorado, at 1700, with full fuel tanks and 500 gallons of water and Class A foam.

    The United States Forest Service (USFS) air-to-ground contact, who was located near the intended drop area, stated that he was in radio contact with the two airplanes when they arrived to the wildfire area. The USFS contact informed the accident airplane pilot the intended drop location and expectations. The intended drop area was a line of pine trees located to the north of a gravel road and the existing wildfire, and the contact wanted the trees protected in case the wildfire crossed the road. Prior to the live drop, the accident pilot performed a dry run, and the second airplane flew approximately 500 feet overhead as a spotter. After completing the dry run, the airplane circled around to the south and east to set up for the live drop, which was an east to west flight pattern. The airplane flew to the west over the top of a tall pine tree, and the pilot released the load approximately 500 feet west of the intended drop location. The load was dropped on top of the ground contact and his vehicle.

    After a second or two, the contact overhead the pilot reported a series of maydays and "I'm going down." The contact looked up to the west and observed the airplane's right wing impact the terrain. The contact stated the wind was from the southwest and gusting to 30 to 40 knots.

    The accident site was located on a grass covered hill adjacent to highway 115 at an elevation of approximately 6,600 feet mean sea level. The airplane came to rest in an upright position on a measured magnetic heading of 340 degrees. Examination of the wreckage showed that the right wing was crushed aft and bent up, and the fuselage was crushed to the right. The main landing gear struts and wheel assemblies were separated. The left wing was bent forward and the aft fuselage attach fitting was separated. The right horizontal stabilizer was bent aft and up, and the left horizontal stabilizer was bent forward. The 5-blade propeller assembly was separated from the propeller shaft, and one blade was separated from the hub.

    FMI: www.ntsb.gov
    A fire burning in a remote portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has crossed over containment lines.

    The Eagle Fire started as a prescribed burn.  It has burned more than 4,000 acres, but most of that burn was planned, according to the forest managers.

    Winds blew it out of control 35 miles South of Alpine.

    Highway 191 is still open to motorists.

    Fire crews warn drivers to beware of heavy smoke in the area.

    Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved


    Forest Service chief says wildfire season starting out busy

    10:05 a.m. April 24, 2008

      DENVER – U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell says it looks like it could be a busy wildfire season.

    Kimbell points to wildfires burning in Arizona and New Mexico and last week's fires in eastern Colorado as evidence that it's already busy. Drought in the Southeast has fueled wildfires there, helping boost the Forest Service's firefighting costs to $400 million so far this year.

    Kimbell says a proposal in Congress to establish a fund to pay for catastrophic wildfires would help the Forest Service. The agency spends about half its roughly $4 billion budget on firefighting.


    Crews Plan Burnout to Contain NC Wildfire

    Fire crews are planning to burn about 1,200 acres near a wildfire in western North Carolina to limit damage from the blaze.

    Fire team spokesman Eric Mosley said Thursday about 200 firefighters were preparing for the burnout by building fire lines along the perimeter of the area.

    The burnout is scheduled to begin Friday.

    The blaze has burned about 740 acres north of Marion.

    Helicopters, fire engines and bulldozers were brought in to help firefighters manage the blaze, which is about 50 percent contained. Mosley said the fire started April 18, but what caused the fire is still unclear.

    Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved

    Wildfire near Marion still not under control

    Dale Neal dneal@ashevill.gannett.com • published April 22, 2008 12:15 am

    MARION – About 280 firefighters, including crews from Idaho, Arkansas and Oklahoma, continued a four-day battle today against a wildfire that has burned more than 800 acres in the Pisgah National Forest in the North Cove area of McDowell County. Sunrise fire was still about 50 percent contained around noon today, said Eric Mosley, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

    The blaze is about 15 miles north of Marion off U.S. 221. Deborah Walker of the Forest Service said the firefighters want to contain the blaze between Bridge Branch and Pond Branch and west of N.C. 105, which runs along the Linville Gorge Wilderness.

    The fire could possibly grow to as much as 2,000 acres later this week as crews plan a backfire to hold the advancing wildfire on its southern flank, Walker said. “It’s very tough terrain. The problem is we have a lot of dead and down trees that were killed by beetles a few years back. That’s what feeding the fire.”

    Mosley said they hope rain forecasted for Saturday will help them gain final control over the blaze.

    The Sunrise fire borders the Linville Gorge Wilderness, which suffered a wildfire last summer that burned 5,400 acres.

    The Sunrise wildfire was sparked by an electrical fire that destroyed a house Friday morning.

    Homeowners from three area subdivisions were evacuated to help trucks and bulldozers navigate the winding back roads, but all residents are back in their homes Monday, Walker said. No houses have been destroyed.

    In Haywood County, 88 firefighters were able to fully contain the Pinnacle Ridge fire Monday, which had burned 425 acres around Balsam Gap.

    “We’re looking to scale back to a skeleton crew (today) and Wednesday as the fire creeps down to the containment lines,” said David Brown, of the N.C. Forest Service.

    The fire is still burning in some pockets, Brown said. “We had some significant smoke in the Allen Creek community.”

    The Blue Ridge Parkway will reopen today from U.S. 23-74 at Balsam Gap to N.C. 215 at Beech Gap. The scenic road was closed over the weekend as the fire crossed over at the Pinnacle Ridge tunnel.


    Minnewaska wildfire tied to smoking items

    By Christine Pizzuti • Poughkeepsie Journal • April 24, 2008

    The wildfire burning at Minnewaska State Park since Thursday is believed to have been started by discarded smoking materials

    Yancey Roy, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, would not say what the exact cause of the fire was. The conclusion was made given the absence of tell-tale arson materials or debris associated with campfires. Also, the point of origin of the fire was close to the roadway, Roy said.

    "Our investigators are fairly certain this was a smoking-related fire," Roy said. "Based on the place of origin and how it spread."

    He said Route 44/55 reopened Wednesday night, as the fire is considered contained.

    However, they are being cautious because they see "red flag conditions," Roy said. These include warm temperatures, low winds and low moisture, he said.

    The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch for the area from this afternoon through this evening.

    "They're going to be very vigilant about maintaining control over the fire to make sure that the weather change doesn't start new problems," Roy said.

    Helicopters are on standby today, Roy said, and night operations are planned for this evening as the "mop-up" phase of the fire continues.

    "They are continually looking to dig out the ground and put out smoldering spots," Roy said. "It's standard for those operations to take a while."

    Reach Christine Pizzuti at cpizzuti@poughkeepsiejournal.com or 845-437-4882.


    N.Y. wildfire blackens 3,100 acres

    Published: April 21, 2008

    NEW PALTZ, N.Y., April 21 (UPI) -- Firefighters said Monday they made good progress in taming a wildfire that had burned about 3,100 acres in New York's Catskill Mountains.

    Mid-Hudson News Network reported that while the blaze was still burning at Minnewaska State Park, it was 80 percent contained. The network said there were reports of minor injuries by fire crews but the only structure to be destroyed was a ranger hut.

    More 200 firefighters from more than 30 fire departments have been fighting the blaze, aided by aerial water drops.

    The fire started Thursday near New Paltz, N.Y., about 90 miles north of New York City. Capt. Dan Walsh of the rangers called it the largest wildfire in the area in 60 years, The
    New York Times reported. The cause had not been determined, the newspaper said.

    © 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.


    Wildfire burns near highway 191 in Eastern Arizona

    Reported by: ABC15.com staff
    Last Update: 4/23 6:34 pm

    Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
    A fire burning in a remote portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has crossed over containment lines.

    The Eagle Fire started as a prescribed burn.  It has burned more than 4,000 acres, but most of that burn was planned, according to the forest managers.

    Winds blew it out of control 35 miles South of Alpine.

    Highway 191 is still open to motorists.

    Fire crews warn drivers to beware of heavy smoke in the area.


    Wildfire is contained near Great Salt Lake

    Published: Monday, April 21, 2008 2:16 a.m. MDT
    A wildfire that burned more than 1,500 acres of land near the Great Salt Lake has been contained.

    The Pintail Flats fire started Saturday afternoon and burned between 1,500 and 1,800 acres of land on the western edge of Ogden Bay, according to a statement from the Division of Wildlife Resources.

    Firefighters had contained the blaze by about 3:30 a.m. on Sunday.

    The high winds that fueled the flames continued to blow Sunday afternoon, and firefighters were still monitoring for potential flare-ups.

    The cause of the fire is unknown but is being called suspicious


    Smoldering trash sparked deadly Colo. wildfire

    Blaze killed two firefighters and forced 1,200 residents to flee

    updated 12:35 a.m. PT, Sat., April. 19, 2008

    ORDWAY, Colo. - A smoldering trash pile is being blamed for sparking a wildfire in a Colorado farming community that left two firefighters dead Tuesday.

    No criminal charges are being recommended in the blaze in Ordway, Colorado, about 120 miles southeast of Denver. The fire torched at least eight homes and forced all 1,200 residents to flee.

    The flames ignited dry grass under a wood-beamed bridge over a ditch on a state highway. The two volunteer firefighters were killed when their fire truck crashed through the weakened bridge and plunged into a ditch.

    The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has found no criminal acts by the private property owner.

    Ritter seeks disaster declaration after Crowley County fire

    ORDWAY, Colo. (Map, News) - Gov. Bill Ritter has asked the federal Small Business Administration to declare Crowley County a disaster area after a wildfire that killed two firefighters, destroyed eight homes and charred 14 square miles.

    A disaster designation would make low-interest loans available to qualifying homeowners and businesses to rebuild.

    The fire broke out Tuesday in Ordway, about 120 miles southeast of Denver. Investigators say it was started by a trash and hay pile that had been intentionally burned but not fully extinguished. They recommended against criminal charges.

    Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


    3 injured fighting 600-acre wildfire
    By From Staff Reports

    Published: April 19, 2008

    A Virginia Department of Forestry employee was in intensive care Saturday night at the University of Virginia Medical Center after suffering upper-body burns while fighting a large brush fire in Buckingham County.
    Two other firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation at local medical facilities.

    The fire, which covered about 600 acres near Routes 622 and 676, was brought under control after about nine hours, said Kevin Flippen of Buckingham emergency services.

    All five of the county’s fire companies battled the blaze throughout the day.

    The brush fire was reported around 12:30 p.m. and the forestry employee was taken to the hospital at 2 p.m.
    The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. 


    FIRE MAP FOR APRIL, 18, 2008

    Tennessee Wildfire Started by Motorcycle Crash

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    GATLINBURN, Tenn. —  A fire blazing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was started by a motorcycle crash.

    National Park Service spokesman Bob Miller said the fire had grown to about 10 acres by Wednesday night and would expand further Thursday while firefighters worked to contain it.

    It began when a rider crashed his motorcycle on U.S. 129 in a winding area known as "the Dragon."

    Miller said the steep and rocky terrain prevents firefighters from making a direct attack on the fire. They were working to contain it between the highway and the Topoco power line.

    Officials said the motorcyclist walked away from the crash.


    Colorado wildfire 20 percent contained after overnight snow
    April 17, 2008

      DENVER – Overnight snow helped firefighters extend containment lines Thursday at a 14-square-mile wildfire in southern Colorado that claimed the life of a firefighting pilot earlier this week.

    The fire at Fort Carson was 20 percent contained, up from 10 percent the night before.

    Snow moved into the area Wednesday night, blanketing a wide swath of foothills and grasslands. The National Weather Service could not say how much snow fell on the fire, but 2 inches was recorded in nearby Colorado Springs, about 60 miles south of Denver.

    The fire was one of three that erupted on Tuesday.

    A fire in Ordway, a tiny farming community about 120 miles southeast of Denver, killed two firefighters, destroyed at least eight homes and prompted authorities to order all 1,200 residents to evacuate. It was 100 percent contained Wednesday night.

    A blaze near Carbondale in the western Colorado mountains, about 120 miles west of Denver, was also 100 percent contained. It damaged two buildings and slightly injured a fisherman.

    The Garfield County Sheriff's Department said the Carbondale fire started after high winds exposed an ember from a property owner's controlled burn.

    No burn ban was in effect, but Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach said his department had not issued any burn permits – required for controlled burns – that day. The investigation was continuing, and no one had been charged.

    The causes of the other fires were still under investigation.

    Pilot Gert Marais of Fort Benton, Mont., was killed Tuesday when his single-engine plane crashed after dumping fire-retardant slurry on the Fort Carson blaze. Marais, 42, worked for a Sterling, Colo., company that supplies aerial firefighting services to the Colorado State Forest Service.

    The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating.

    Volunteer firefighters John Schwartz, 38, and Terry Devore, 30, were killed at the Ordway blaze on Tuesday when their fire truck plunged into a ravine under a bridge that had been damaged by flames. It wasn't immediately clear if the bridge collapsed under the weight of the truck or had fallen earlier.

    Schwartz and Devore were corrections officers at a state prison outside Ordway and were members of the Olney Springs Volunteer Fire Department.


    Firefighters Hope Storms Will Help Stifle Colorado Wildfires That Killed 3

    ORDWAY, Colo. —  Firefighters resumed the battle Wednesday against three wildfires that blazed through nearly 20,000 acres in Colorado, killing three people and forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate.

    Two of the dead were volunteer firefighters who were killed when a bridge damaged by flames collapsed under their fire truck, a state lawmaker said. The third was the pilot of an air tanker.

    Wind gusted up to 50 mph along the Rocky Mountain Front Range and eastern plains on Tuesday, fanning flames that quickly spread across 8,900 acres — or 14 square miles — of grassland near Ordway. All 1,200 residents of the town were told to leave, and they had not been allowed back in by Wednesday.

    On Wednesday morning, wind was blowing at less than 10 mph at Pueblo, about 50 miles west of Ordway, the National Weather Service said. Firefighters hoped rain and snow expected later in the day would help them corral the blaze.

    The Ordway fire was 80 percent contained by Wednesday morning but had damaged at least 24 buildings, eight within town limits, fire information officer Katherine Sanguinetti said.

    Authorities said firefighters John Schwartz Jr., 38, and Terry Davore, 29, died in the bridge collapse. Both were corrections officers at a state prison outside Ordway and were members of the Olney Springs Volunteer Fire Department, said Ari Zavaras, director of the state Department of Corrections.

    State Rep. Cory Gardner, whose district includes Ordway, told legislative leaders both men had young children.

    Former state Rep. Mark Cloer of Sugar City, near Ordway, told lawmakers that ranchers would need emergency feed for cattle because the fire destroyed feedlots.

    A firefighting plane crashed near Fort Carson, killing the pilot, Gert Marais, 42, of Fort Benton, Mont., Fort Carson spokesman Maj. Sean Ryan said.

    Marais worked for a Sterling, Colo., company that supplies aerial firefighting services to the Colorado State Forest Service, Ryan said.

    The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating.

    Marais was battling a blaze there that charred 9,600 acres — about 15 square miles — and forced the evacuation of people living near the Army base.

    Authorities could not say how many people had been evacuated at the Fort Carson fire, but none had been allowed back into their homes by Wednesday morning.

    About 300 firefighters were at the fire but no containment lines had been established, El Paso County sheriff's Sgt. Jeanette Whitney said.

    Firefighting aircraft were grounded for a safety stand-down after the fatal crash but were cleared to fly again Wednesday if needed, said Steve Segin, a spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordinating Center, which organizes state and federal firefighting agencies.

    A team from the coordinating center was preparing to take control of the firefighting effort later Wednesday, an indication of how serious the situation was.

    Two shelters were set up at the post and a third at a nearby community college to house evacuees. The cause of the fire at the base outside Colorado Springs, about 60 miles south of Denver, hadn't been determined.

    A third fire, near Carbondale in the western Colorado mountains, damaged at least two homes and left a fisherman with minor injuries.

    Rain was possible in parts of the area during the afternoon and there was a chance of up to a foot of snow in Colorado's eastern mountains beginning Wednesday evening and lasting into Thursday morning, the weather service said.

    All but a handful of Ordway residents had left for the nearby communities of Sugar City and Crowley, where officials set up a shelter. An unknown number of residents were allowed to remain in a nursing care facility in a section of Ordway not threatened by the fire, fire information officer Chris Sorensen said.

    Armed with a chain saw, shovel and hose, Brian Walker stood ready to save his house from the flames.

    "Well, I got a yard, and I got a home and I want to keep it," said Walker, 45. "I thought if the fire came, I thought I could do whatever I could to stop it."

    Helicopter footage showed at least three houses fully engulfed in flames near the town about 120 miles southeast of Denver. Two state highways were closed.

    At least three heavy air tankers, each capable of carrying up to 2,500 gallons of fire retardant, were sent to Ordway, Segin said.

    Crowley County Sheriff Miles Clark said he asked the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to help investigate the cause.

    All three fires broke out after a wetter than normal winter was followed by a dry March.

    Gov. Bill Ritter declared a state of emergency, freeing up state resources to help fight the fires. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also agreed to provide money for the firefighting efforts.

    The wildfire near Carbondale, in the mountains about 120 miles west of Denver, blackened about 1,000 acres. It was about 25 percent contained Wednesday.


    Big Sur wildfire closes Highway 1

    By Monterey County Herald Article Launched: 04/17/2008 09:45:22 AM PDT
    A wildland fire burning just outside Los Padres National Forest along the Big Sur coast closed Highway 1 in both directions and forced the evacuation of several residents Wednesday.

    California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Jan Bray said the fire was burning in "extremely heavy and tall brush on steep slopes" uphill from Highway 1 about 15 miles south of Big Sur.

    The fire started around 1 p.m. about a mile south of the Esalen Institute. Although it appeared to be threatening structures, the fire was kept at bay and no houses were damaged, said Joe Pasinato, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

    The Monterey County Sheriff's Office reported that residents on Dolan Road were supposed to be evacuated in the early afternoon, but as one resident tried to drive down a steep, narrow dirt road, the driver swerved to avoid another car and rolled over, deputies said, blocking the evacuation route.

    It took two hours to remove the wreckage with a bulldozer, deputies said. The driver was not injured.

    Officers aboard the new sheriff's office helicopter flew over residences and announced evacuations while other deputies knocked on doors.

    Five residents agreed to leave, deputies said, while two stayed in their homes.

    Deputies said they would remain in the area until it was safe for residents to return, which was predicted to be sometime late Wednesday.

    By 9 p.m., firefighters said the blaze had consumed 10 acres and was

    about 60 percentcontained, with full containment likely by tonight.

    Several "hot spots" remained Wednesday, but officials said there was "no appreciable rate of spread."

    One lane of Highway 1 was open by 9 p.m. Wednesday, with both lanes expected to be opened by this afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.

    No injuries to firefighters or residents were reported.

    Crews from the U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire and the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Department fought the fire on the ground, while a Santa Barbara County Fire Department helicopter dropped water. A state prison inmate fire crew also helped on the ground.

    The California Highway Patrol closed Highway 1 in both directions just north of Esalen Institute and at Dolan Creek to the south.

    While an early report indicated the fire may have been started by a car whose driver was changing a tire, officials later said the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

    Cal Fire officials said an unrelated controlled burn is scheduled to take place at 11 p.m. today on the Silacci Ranch east of Salinas and advised residents not to be alarmed.

    DeSoto, FL  wildfire mystifies officials: Burning patchwork chars 330 square acres

    (Last updated: April 18, 2008 8:09 PM)

    A contained wildfire in DeSoto County is expected to take a week before burning out.

    DeSoto News Editor

    DeSOTO COUNTY — A wildfire slowly smoldering on property 2 miles inland from County Roads 760 and 769 is expected to take at least a week before it burns out, officials from the state Division of Forestry said.

    The Addison Avenue Wildfire, accessed on Addison Avenue and Southwest Aurin Grade, is invisible from the commonly traveled roads, which possibly caused a delay in its discovery. It has burned in uneven patches over an area of approximately 330 square acres, fueled by the dead trees and debris left by Hurricane Charley.

    The wildfire currently is under investigation, according to Patrick Mahoney, the division's wildfire managment specialist. He said the investigation is continuing because the source of the fire, whether natural or manmade, is unknown. Mahoney said that anyone with knowledge of the source of the wildfire — or any suspicious fire — should call the Arson Alert line at 800-342-5869. Kelley Johnson, whose land is part of the fire site, said he first saw smoke on Sunday afternoon while working on his property. He said he monitored the wildfire's progress, expecting it to die out in the cypress swamp area on his land.

    4.18.2008 9:07 AM

    Texas Wildfire Destroys 6 Homes

    A Brisk, Deadly Start to the 2008 Wildfire Season

    Wildfires near Odessa, Texas, have destroyed six homes, and led to the evacuation of 150 other homes, according to the Associated Press. The fire comes just days after a Colorado wildfire killed three, led to the evacuation of more than 1,000 residents and burned 11 square miles.

    The fires are among more than 13,555 recorded already in 2008. That's a slightly lower total than the five-year average to date, but the acreage burned — 1.1 million — is 45.7% above the five-year average, and 97.7% above the average since 2000. The totals do not include this week's fires, including those in Colorado and Texas.

    Despite a wet winter that typically tamps down on fire risk, a particularly dry March has made conditions ripe for fires in much of the West.

    Scientists warn that fire risk will increase with global warming, as mountain snowpack diminishes, summer heat increases and vegetation become more susceptible to drying out.

    More fire activity is likely today, as the National Weather Service has announced red flag warnings due to fire risk across several parts of the U.S.