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Fires force evacuations in West Coast states

ALTURAS, Calif. (AP) -- Wildfires burning through dry terrain in West Coast states have forced scores of evacuations as fire teams worked to corral the blazes.

Lightning sparked dozens of fires in Northern California, including one in rural Modoc County that spurred some 120 people to evacuate, and the threat of more strikes along with winds from looming thunderstorms could aggravate the firefight.

Authorities in Siskiyou County near the Oregon border issued an evacuation notice late Friday.

The most dangerous of the fires was near the community of Day and had burned through nearly 18 square miles of brush and heavy timber and was threatening 150 structures Friday, two days after it began. It was only 10 percent contained.

Officials were expected to send additional fire crews to supplement the 700 or so firefighters battling the blaze, which is burning in heavy brush and steep terrain amid the thunderstorm threat, said state fire spokesman Dennis Mathisen.

"It's a challenging firefight due to the extreme fire conditions we're experiencing," Mathisen said.

The fire was among more than 40 that have broken out as a result of lightning strikes since Wednesday. Most were in remote areas and were not threatening homes, and many of them were quickly contained.

In Washington state, a new wildfire burning intensely amid high winds forced the evacuation of about 200 homes Friday.

Officials ordered the evacuations and closed part of state Highway 20 because of the surging fire that started in north-central Washington halfway between Twisp and Winthrop.

Janet Pearce, a spokeswoman for Washington's Department of Natural Resources, said some structures had burned. It wasn't known if they were homes or other buildings.

The fire burned close to a command post at Liberty Bell High School, where firefighters working on the Carlton Complex have been camping in tents.

"We were a little nervous, but the fire's gone around us so now we're fine," Alan Hoffmeister, a spokesman for the Carlton Complex, told The Associated Press. "We sent over quite an air force of helicopters and air tankers to drop retardant. They really pounded it."

Washington state's Carlton Complex fire has burned 395 square miles and destroyed about 300 homes.

Along the Oregon-California border, a wildfire touched off by lightning has burned buildings and prompted evacuations, but there are no reports of any injuries.

Air crews over the fire reported the damage to multiple outbuildings, which could include barns, sheds and other uninhabited structures.

Fire officials say residents of 23 homes have been urged to evacuate. The said the blaze has destroyed three homes, five outbuildings and several cars.

Gov. John Kitzhaber invoked the state's Emergency Conflagration Act on Friday, requiring the state police and fire marshal to mobilize equipment, firefighters and other personnel from around the state.

The Oregon Gulch fire doubled since Thursday night to about 17 square miles, or just over 11,000 acres.

Nearby, on the California side of the border, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's office issued an evacuation notice late Friday night for residents of Beaver Creek. Fire officials said deputies were personally informing residents. There was no word on the number of homes affected by the notice.

California is in its third year of drought, which has heightened the fire danger. The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services announced Friday that it has asked the state's National Guard to activate specially trained helicopter units to help fire agencies.

"The forward deployment of these will help incident commanders and the personnel they are directing save lives, homes and personal property as well as valuable watershed by providing critical resources within a moment's notice," California emergency services Director Mark Ghilarducci said in a statement.

Fire crews in California also were battling a blaze in Sierra National Forest about 60 miles northeast of Fresno that threatened dozens of homes and forced a handful of evacuations Friday afternoon.

Evacuations were ordered for some 50 houses in Arnold Meadows, but many are vacation homes and only about a dozen people had to evacuate when deputies went door-to-door, The Madera County Sheriff's Department said.

The blaze was burning close to the Mammoth Pool Reservoir, a popular recreation spot that supplies drinking water, said fire spokesman Matthew Chambers.

The blaze had burned through nearly 13 square miles and was 15 percent contained.

In Yosemite National Park, residents from about 50 homes returned Friday afternoon. They were the last remaining evacuees from a fire that had burned through 7 square miles and destroyed a home and a duplex. It was 78 percent contained.

The park remained open and was largely unaffected.

Join the discussion

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joper201 August 01 2014 at 7:43 PM

I used to line in north east California. Susanville.
From Susanville north to the Modoc Forest there are beautiful, park like forests.
Wonderful habit for deer, the Spotted Owl, Pacific Fisher and other forest animals.
It' virtually one big tree plantation from Susanville to the Modoc owned by several large Timber companies who manage their TIMBER CROP in a self sustaining, fire resistant manner.
If our Forests were managed as well as those owned by Timber companies we would not suffer the massive, unstoppable firestorms.

Just think of all the Millions upon millions of board feet of timber and the millions upon millions of Pacific Fisher, Spotted Owl, Deer and other forest animal habit is lost every year because the Forest Service is not allowed to manage our Forest in a science based manner.
I think the extreme environmentalists owe all the dead animals an apology

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1 reply
ktalzr joper201 August 02 2014 at 9:31 AM

But humans should stay out right?

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2 replies
schlauger1 ktalzr August 02 2014 at 4:13 PM

No humans shouldn't stay out. Humans should be responsible. Animals are responsible habituating beings.

The "extreme" environmentalist might need to calm down. But it might help if the people that disregard the consequences of human uncaring self-involvement and ignorance would wake up.

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joper201 ktalzr August 03 2014 at 12:07 AM

I worked for the Forest Service for 5 years between High School and College.
I drove an Engine for 4 of those years.
Like the Northern Cal fires in the News now, MOST of the fires I fought were lightening caused.
I live surrounded by the Sequoia National Forest.
Five years ago the Forest Service wanted to thin about a thousand acres of an old clear cut they had replanted.
Thinning is a normal part of reforestation as the seedlings are planted 2 or 3 feet a part.
Extreme environmentalists sued on behalf of the Pacific Fisher and stopped the Thinning which was called a fuel reduction project.
Because the project was STOPPED the Pacific Fisher habit was destroyed and another 35000 acres.
I think the extreme environmentalists owe the Pacific Fishers, Spotted Owls and all of the other little animals who were killed or lost their habits an apology.
Man is a part of animal world and the habitat.

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vincentpricehowell August 01 2014 at 4:42 PM

Does anybody know if there's a book out on the West and their water problem? Of all the geniuses out there, you'd think a plan could be put in place, to help the West's water problem, when there is an extreme drought problem.

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5 replies
Hi Bob August 02 2014 at 12:59 PM

I am reading some pretty stupid comments here today. Blaming it on the liberals for one. I don't like the liberals myself, however I am not an idiot who blames them for the wildfires. For those of you who have never been involved in fighting one I suggest you do a little research before you run off at the mouth. Wildfire fighting is nothing less than barely controlled chaos. There is no room for incompetence. Incompetence kills people. One minor mistake killes people. It is brutal,exhausting, frightening yet exhilerating. For you who are accusing the BLM and Forest Service of mismanagment you might first consider that they are required to follow a strict set of rules established by mid-level government officials in Washington DC, most of whom have never seen a real tree let alone forests on the scale we have out here. It is easy to cast blame especially for the ignorant, the misinformed or the outright stupid.

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1 reply
mociambz Hi Bob August 02 2014 at 11:20 PM

a good friend of mine is head of the forestry dept at cal poly and advised bush that the liberals were destroying forests thru their bad timber management policies eco nuts are killing millons of trees with their stupidy and greed

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Practical Nomad August 02 2014 at 7:20 PM

Our thoughts and hopes are with the Firefighters and Residents. Hoping they come through this safely and that the fires are out soon.

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joper201 August 02 2014 at 2:04 PM

Some say let fires do their job and don't put them out.
In the late 1800s the average per acre tree count in the Western Pine Forest was about 22 trees per acre due to clear cutting.
The average count per acre in areas not clear cut was about 150 trees per acre.
Fires back then were slow burning, cool fires which only scorched tree trunks and cleaned the forest floor of small trees and other debris.
We have very few Forest Fires any longer.
We now have massive, unstoppable firestorms that sterilize the soil, kill burrowing animals and destroy millions upon millions of habitat every year because of frivolous, emotion based law suits that prevent the Forest Service from doing their job.
Today most forest are lousy habit.
Now we have 150 to a 1000 trees per acre where the sun never reaches the floor and the fuel load builds up to massive proportions.

Instead of denying or denigrating my FACTS research them and find the truth yourself.

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cavy9396 August 02 2014 at 10:11 AM

You know if a tornado ripped thru Kansas or something I doubt that a bunch of people from California would be in this comment section posting rude comments. That's what you get for living in your corn infested flat land blah blah Obama's fault bla bla blah....what ever happened to if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all??? everyone has a voice these days on the internet, but most of you don't deserve to use it. If you have a stupid hateful comment mind your manors and keep it to yourself.

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1 reply
skyofblue17 cavy9396 August 02 2014 at 10:50 AM

It is just that the fires are constant and it takes weeks and weeks to snuff them out so it is constantly in the news until one just doesn't care anymore. Tornados do their thing and are done in 5 minutes.

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1 reply
Leah skyofblue17 August 02 2014 at 10:29 PM

So sorry our ongoing crisis is annoying you.

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coreelectric August 02 2014 at 9:52 AM

Let's quit being idiots! Evacuate homes, work to protect homes, but allow these forest fires to do their jobs, the way Mother Nature intends. Fires happen for a reason, and who is man to try harnessing a great cleansing?

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1 reply
Hi Bob coreelectric August 02 2014 at 1:17 PM

Man has created the conditions that results in many of thes fires growing to such scale. Mother nature did not create the clear cut timber sales that resulted in large areas of low lying brush and trees that are perfect tinder for fast moving and uncontrollable fires. With a lightning strike these fires start and spread fast and by the time fire crews are able to get to the scene frequently are burning hot enough and high enough to reach the lower branches (the crown) of the bordering adult timber. When the fire crowns out it creates its own air currents and is nearly impossible to fight. If we let them continue to burn our western mountains would soon be as barren as the plains states. This is not a great cleansing. These are simply fires. Some started naturally, Some started by man and some simply by accident. The only great cleansing this country needs is to cleans it of stupid people. That would truelly be a benificail cleansing.

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patrickliveshere August 01 2014 at 7:54 PM

Way to go, Caliphony!! You won't need animal preservation for long. Just keep mismanaging forest and protecting the $$it $$it bird and after while you will have little or no forest and millions of dead animals!

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1 reply
kcarthey patrickliveshere August 02 2014 at 6:03 AM

Lightning caused fires are God's work. God killed those animals and burned the forests. You can't blame man.

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3 replies
John Roberson August 01 2014 at 8:10 PM

, you elected the liberals, California, so pay your high taxes, live with your fires and your drought, and your immorality and hopefully those traits will stay there and in the state of New York and not infect the middle America as much.

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6 replies
sparrca August 01 2014 at 5:03 PM

This is like no news.....
Lived in Southern Cali for 8 years.
Fires every summer and fall.

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