Wildfires blazing under extreme heat out West
A series of wildfires is blazing across the Southwest as the chance of rain remains low amid a deadly heatwave.
Eighteen large fires are burning in the region, including six in Arizona, three in Utah, three in California, three in New Mexico and two in Nevada. One large wildfire is burning in Oregon. The two biggest of those are in southern Arizona and Utah.
Wildfires already have caused far more destruction than usual in the first half of 2017, meteorologist Haley Brink of the CNN Weather Center said. Almost 1 million more acres had burned by Thursday, compared with the 10-year average through June 22.
800 battle Arizona wildfire
The Frye Fire in southern Arizona covers nearly 30,000 acres and is only 10% contained, the forest service at Coronado National Forest said.
More than 800 personnel are battling the fire, which started on June 7. The Frye Fire is about 70 miles northeast of Tucson, the second-largest city in Arizona.
Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency Friday in Arizona to authorize the use of $200,000 of emergency funds to counter increased wildfire activity.
Since April, the state has experienced more than a dozen large wildfires “aided by high temperatures, winds, and available fuels,” his office said in a statement.
“We thank the many brave men and women who have stepped up and responded to wildfires around Arizona,” Ducey said. “I’m issuing today’s declaration to make sure they have every resource needed to do their jobs and protect our communities.”
The area near the fire is expecting temperatures in the triple digits through next Friday, with no sign of rain.
13 homes destroyed in Utah
In Utah, too, raging fires continue to blaze with little rain relief in sight.
Nine communities, including Brian Head, a ski town near the Dixie National Forest in the southern part of the state, have been evacuated, officials said. At least 13 homes and eight outbuildings have been destroyed in Brian Head, which is about 30 miles north of Zion National Park.
The massive Brian Head wildfire has grown to 33,000 acres and is just 5% contained, the Utah Division of Forestry said. More than 800 personnel are tending to the fire.
The fire started on June 17 and “grew very quickly through dense timber,” officials said.
Temperatures in Brian Head are expected to be fairly moderate, in the low 70s and upper 60s, through Friday, but no rain is in sight.
Aside from those two major fires, 16 other active fires of lesser size blazed around the West.
In New Mexico, the Corral Fire reached about 17,000 acres and is burning with low to moderate intensity, according to New Mexico Fire Information.
And in central Oregon, the Rhoades Canyon fire grew to 14,000 acres but was 50% contained, according to KTVZ.