Crews battle wildfires raging across four Western U.S. states

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Western wildfires June 2015
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Crews battle wildfires raging across four Western U.S. states
A Los Angeles City Fire helicopter drops water on flames, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Santa Clarita, Calif. About 1,000 people have been evacuated from homes as a 100-acre wildfire burns through brushy canyonlands north of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Rick McClure)
A firefighter puts water on flames, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, in Santa Clarita, Calif. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says 1,000 people have been evacuated from homes as a 100-acre wildfire burns through brushy canyonlands north of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Rick McClure)
FILE - In this June 7, 2015 file photo, smoke rises from the Bogus Creek Fire, one of two fires burning in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Alaska. Wildfires are blistering Alaska forests with increasing frequency and intensity and forest managers and climate scientists are trying to explain why and predict what's next. One common factor associated with the increase, which doesn't bode well for 2015 or beyond, is warm weather, even if experts don't explicitly blame climate change. (Matt Snyder/Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
In this June 17, 2015 photo from the Alaska Army National Guard, a “Bambi Bucket,” hanging from a helicopter releases hundreds of gallons of water onto the Stetson Creek Fire near Cooper Landing, Alaska. Crews have wrangled two large wildfires north and south of Anchorage as dozens of blazes burn about 160 square miles in Alaska. One fire forced the evacuation of campsites on the Kenai Peninsula and destroyed at least eight structures since Monday. (Sgt. Balinda O’Neal/U.S. Army National Guard via AP)
This Monday, June 15, 2015, aerial photo released by the Alaska Division of Forestry shows the Card Street Fire burning on the Kenai Peninsula, between the Sterling Highway and the Kenai River near Sterling, Alaska. The fire doubled in size Tuesday, June 16, 2015, to about 4 square miles and had pushed east into the uninhabited Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska's most popular sport-fishing venue. (Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
In this June 17, 2015 photo from the Alaska Army National Guard, a “Bambi Bucket,” hanging from a helicopter releases hundreds of gallons of water onto the Stetson Creek Fire near Cooper Landing, Alaska. Crews have wrangled two large wildfires north and south of Anchorage as dozens of blazes burn about 160 square miles in Alaska. One fire forced the evacuation of campsites on the Kenai Peninsula and destroyed at least eight structures since Monday. Altogether, 49 active fires are burning in three western states. (Sgt. Balinda O’Neal/U.S. Army National Guard via AP)
In this Sunday, June 7, 2015 photo, smoke rises from the Bogus Creek Fire, one of two fires burning in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Alaska. Fire managers said Monday that weekend rain helped tamp down the fires which, together, total about 63 square miles. (Matt Snyder/Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
MT. HAMILTON, CA - JUNE 03: A Cal Fire firefighter practices extinguishing a grass fire during a live fire training on June 3, 2015 in Mt. Hamilton, California. Cal Fire firefighters are training ahead of what is expected to be an explosive wildfire season as California pushes through its fourth year of severe drought. The state has had over 1,000 wildfires since the beginning of the year. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A wildfire burns south of Barton Flats in the San Bernardino, Calif.,  Mountains on Thursday, June 18, 2015. The wildfire forced the evacuation of nearly 200 campers, most of them children, from campgrounds in the San Bernardino National Forest.  (John Valenzuela/The Sun via AP) 
This Monday, June 15, 2015, aerial photo released by the Alaska Division of Forestry shows the initial attack of the Card Street Fire burning on the Kenai Peninsula, between the Sterling Highway and the Kenai River near Sterling, Alaska. The fire doubled in size Tuesday, June 16, 2015, to about 4 square miles and had pushed east into the uninhabited Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska's most popular sport-fishing venue. (Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
A structure on Slough Avenue burns after the Card Street wildfire burned through the Kenai Key subdivision in Sterling, Alaska on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The wildfire moved rapidly northeast toward the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and authorities have evacuated the Upper and Lower Skilak Lake campground. (Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion via AP)
Justin Winsor watches a wildfire from the Breezeway Trailer Park Wednesday, June 17, 2015 in Kearny, Ariz.  The blaze is not contained at all, but it's mostly relegated to a riverbed and about 200 firefighters have kept it burning away from the town of 2,000 residents, officials said.  (David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via AP) 
The Lake Fire burns for a second day on Thursday, June 18, 2015 near Jenks Lake in Angeles Oaks, Calif.  Firefighters battled two blazes in Southern California, one that was growing as it churned through 30-foot pine trees in a remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains and another that was slowing in northern San Diego County. (Micah Escamilla/The Sun via AP)
A helicopter extracts water from Jenks Lake as the Lake Fire burns for a second day on Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Angeles Oaks, Calif.  Firefighters battled two blazes in Southern California, one that was growing as it churned through 30-foot pine trees in a remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains and another that was slowing in northern San Diego County. (Micah Escamilla/The Sun via AP)
A wildfire burns south of Barton Flats in the San Bernardino, Calif.,  Mountains on Thursday, June 18, 2015. The wildfire forced the evacuation of nearly 200 campers, most of them children, from campgrounds in the San Bernardino National Forest.  (John Valenzuela/The Sun via AP)
In this June 16, 2015 photo, the Card Street wildfire burns behind the Upper Skilak Campground boat launch as authorities work to evacuate the area near Sterling, Alaska. The wildfire moved rapidly northeast toward the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and authorities have evacuated the Upper and Lower Skilak Lake campground. (Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion via AP)
This Monday, June 15, 2015, aerial photo released by the Alaska Division of Forestry shows the Card Street Fire burning on the Kenai Peninsula, between the Sterling Highway and the Kenai River near Sterling, Alaska. The fire doubled in size Tuesday, June 16, 2015, to about 4 square miles and had pushed east into the uninhabited Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska's most popular sport-fishing venue. (Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
A helicopter dumps a load of water on the fast-moving Fish Lake Fire near Scribner Road, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review, via AP)

A Spokane County Fire District 3 brush rig works the Fish Lake Fire along Scribner Road, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The fast moving wildfire has burned about 100 acres. (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review, via AP)

In this June 16, 2015 photo, two Nikiski Fire Department firefighters walk on a road near a fire-ravaged forest left behind by the Card Street fire in Sterling, Alaska. The wildfire moved rapidly northeast toward the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and authorities have evacuated the Upper and Lower Skilak Lake campground. (Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion via AP)
The Lake Fire burns for a second day on Thursday, June 18, 2015, near Jenks Lake in Angeles Oaks, Calif. Firefighters battled two blazes in Southern California, one that was growing as it churned through 30-foot pine trees in a remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains and another that was slowing in northern San Diego County. (Micah Escamilla/The Sun via AP) 
The Fish Lake Fire flares up along S. Scribner Road and is quickly dealt with by a Spokane County Fire District 3 brush rig, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review, via AP)
Debris burns on Jenks Lake Road as the Lake Fire burns for a second day on Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Angeles Oaks, Calif.  Firefighters battled two blazes in Southern California, one that was growing as it churned through 30-foot pine trees in a remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains and another that was slowing in northern San Diego County. (Micah Escamilla/The Sun via AP) 
Fire crews keep an eye on the blaze as the Lake Fire burns for a second day on Thursday, June 18, 2015, near Jenks Lake in Angeles Oaks, Calif. Firefighters battled two blazes in Southern California, one that was growing as it churned through 30-foot pine trees in a remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains and another that was slowing in northern San Diego County. (Micah Escamilla/The Sun via AP)
A helicopter drops water on a wildfire, Wednesday, June 17, 2015 in Kearny, Ariz.  The blaze is not contained,  but it's mostly relegated to a riverbed and about 200 firefighters have kept it burning away from the town of 2,000 residents, officials said.  (David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via AP)
After evacuating her house on S. Scribner Road, Sam Baird waits at a relative's home next door as a Spokane County Fire District 3 brush rig rushes to protect structures in fast-moving Fish Lake Fire's path. (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review via AP)
A deer runs across Jenks Lake Road as the Lake Fire burns for a second day on Thursday, June 18, 2015,  in Angeles Oaks, Calif.  Firefighters battled two blazes in Southern California, one that was growing as it churned through 30-foot pine trees in a remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains and another that was slowing in northern San Diego County. (Micah Escamilla/The Sun via AP)
This Monday, June 15, 2015, aerial photo released by the Alaska Division of Forestry shows the Card Street Fire burning on the Kenai Peninsula, between the Sterling Highway and the Kenai River near Sterling, Alaska. The fire doubled in size Tuesday, June 16, 2015, to about 4 square miles and had pushed east into the uninhabited Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska's most popular sport-fishing venue. (Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
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Wildfires raging in four West Coast states have forced more than 1,000 people to be evacuated from their homes this week in rapidly growing blazes that mark an early start to what experts say may be a particularly destructive fire season.

The fires, spread by wind and exacerbated by very dry conditions, have already consumed more than 100 structures in Alaska, and were threatening others in drought-hit California and Arizona.

In a national forest outside Los Angeles, some 500 firefighters backed by air tankers and bulldozers were battling the Lake Fire, which was raging across some 7,500 acres (3,000 hectares) and was just 5 percent contained, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.

More than 150 people were forced to evacuate various camps, as officials closed hiking trails and roads, and structures were threatened, the county said.

In Alaska, crews of up to nearly 500 firefighters have been battling two massive fires all week that have destroyed more than 100 structures, forced nearly 1,000 people from their homes and restricted traffic on a major highway.

The first fire, which began on Sunday, burned more than 7,500 acres (3,000 hectares) and the second blaze, which erupted on Monday, had more than doubled to 9,000 acres (3,600 hectares) by Thursday afternoon.

As those blazes raged on, firefighters in Arizona reported that they were battling a now 1,100-acres (445-hectare) brush fire burning near the small town of Kearny, southeast of Phoenix, that had forced about 300 area residents from their homes.

By mid-morning, most of the evacuees had been allowed to return home as more than 250 firefighters worked to keep the blaze away from any additional structures.

The blaze, which broke out on Wednesday and was so far about 15 percent contained, has burned at least three residences and two other structures, plus a vehicle, fire officials said.

Massive Wildfires Fueled by Dry Weather in Alaska

In eastern Washington state, firefighters were bracing for high winds from Thursday afternoon into Friday as they worked to contain the remaining half of a roughly 150-acre (61-hectare) blaze southwest of Spokane, fire department spokesman Brian Schaeffer said.

In Oregon, where officials say the fire season has started at least a month early, the state's department of forestry is increasing fire prevention restrictions, including prohibiting smoking in vehicles, starting campfires, and setting off fireworks.

(Reporting by Steve Quinn in Juneau, David Schwartz in Phoenix, and Shelby Sebens in Portland, Oregon; Writing and additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)

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