Crews battle destructive wildfires raging in US West
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Firefighters continued to build containment around several destructive wildfires burning in California, though one stubborn blaze in the northern part of the state grew significantly and crossed the border into Oregon.
The blaze on the California-Oregon state line known as the Klamathon Fire grew to 55 square miles (142 square kilometers) and leapt into Oregon overnight. It was 25 percent contained.
The fire, one of many in the drought-ridden U.S. West, killed one person in their home and destroyed 72 structures, including houses.
It also injured three firefighters, including one who had severe burns to his face, according to a Gofundme page that raised more than $28,000 for him in less than 24 hours.
The Cal Fire firefighter, Brandon Feller, was injured battling the blaze the day it broke out on Thursday but was making a strong recovery, according to the page.
More than 2,300 firefighters continued to fight the fire Sunday amid low humidity and strong winds. Crews were hoping to keep it from jumping a river and threatening additional communities.
“They made some really good headway on holding the fire so we’re just hoping we can keep it there,” said Suzi Brady, a spokeswoman for the crews fighting the fire.
A 500-acre wildfire flared up Sunday night and temporarily shut down Interstate 580 at the Altamont Pass, which is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Oakland. The Alameda county Fire Department said westbound lanes reopened after about an hour.
The Grant Fire was 20 percent contained, Cal Fire officials said.
The state’s largest blaze, the 141-square-mile (365-square-kilometer) County Fire, was 65 percent contained. It has destroyed a dozen structures since it broke out June 30.
Meanwhile in heat-stricken Southern California, crews have built at least 80 percent containment on two major wildfires — one that destroyed 20 homes in Santa Barbara County and a central San Diego County fire that burned 18 structures.
Other major fires in the state were close to being fully contained.
In southern Colorado, firefighters were making progress Sunday on a wildfire that has burned more than 130 homes and blackened nearly 170 square miles (440 square kilometers).
Investigators say an illegal campfire sparked the blaze east of Fort Garland on June 27, and it has since become the third-largest in state history. It also forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 homes.
The fire is 55 percent contained.
Meanwhile, firefighters were taking advantage of rain showers and increased humidity in their battle against a wildfire that has been burning for more than a month near Durango in southwestern Colorado. That fire has scorched about 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) and is 50 percent contained.
Firefighters are dealing with several major wildfires across Colorado.
In neighboring Utah, more residents were allowed back into their homes Sunday after being driven out by a wind-fueled fire. The blaze burning near a popular fishing lake 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Salt Lake City is now 35 percent contained, according to Duchesne County Sheriff’s officials. The wildfire has charred about 75 square miles (193 square kilometers) and destroyed 90 structures, including homes, since starting July 1.