Fires in U.S. West threaten thousands of structures

Jul 29, 2015 12:00 AM

Fires burning in drought-parched California on Tuesday menaced thousands of structures as firefighters struggled to corral the blazes there and elsewhere in the U.S. West, authorities said.

The so-called Lowell Fire north of the state capital, Sacramento, has injured four of the 2,277 firefighters battling it, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire). One firefighter was hospitalized with serious burns, CalFire said.

Roughly a third of the 2,233-acre blaze was contained as of Tuesday morning, with low humidity and high heat expected throughout the day. Roads were closed and evacuation warnings were in place around the fire, which was threatening about 1,800 structures, CalFire said.

Fires in U.S. West threaten thousands of structures Photo: ROBERT DESROSIER/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS
Smoke plumes are seen along St. Mary's Lake from the Reynolds Fire in Glacier National Park in Montana in this photo taken July 21, 2015

A 6,591-acre fire, dubbed the Wragg Fire, burning near Lake Berryessa outside of San Francisco prompted mandatory evacuations for some 200 residents on Tuesday afternoon after flames jumped across a containment line, CalFire said. Several nearby roads were also closed.

To the south, a 1,739-acre fire forced the evacuation of campgrounds in the Sierra National Forest and threatened some 450 structures, including homes and vacation cabins, according to the U.S. Forest Service's InciWeb online fire information center.

The blaze, known as the Willow Fire and located north of the central California city of Fresno, was only 5 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, according to InciWeb.

Experts have predicted an unusually active and destructive wildfire season in California as the state grapples with a fourth year of crippling drought.

In northwestern Montana's Glacier National Park, firefighters managed to draw containment lines around roughly half of the 3,170-acre Reynolds Creek fire, according to InciWeb. Firefighters were aided overnight by cooler temperatures and rain in the area.

The blaze broke out last Tuesday, forcing the closure of campgrounds, a motor inn and several trails, as well as the picturesque Going-to-the-Sun Road that bisects the park, officials said.

Most of the park, which straddles the Canadian border, was unaffected by the fire and remained open to the public, according to officials.

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