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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 02:07 GMT 03:07 UK
Wildfires rage across western US
Firefighters contain hotspots from a fire near Emigrant Gap, California
Many fires are thought to have been due to lightning
Firefighters are trying to contain dozens of wildfires spreading across the western United States, in scenes reminiscent of last year's fires which consumed hundreds of thousands of acres.

Many of the fires are reported to have been triggered by lightning and they have already destroyed dozens of homes.

We get new ones every long as it's hot, it will just continue

Inez Dawson, National Interagency Fire Center
Fire officials said on Wednesday that they were containing outbreaks in Nevada and Colorado but major fires still raged out of control in California, Oregon and Washington.

Throughout the region a total of 376,000 acres (152,000 hectares) were burning on Wednesday at an estimated total cost so far of $189m.

Parts of the western US reached the highest level of fire danger - Level Five - as fire crews battled wildfires that held up traffic and threatened homes.


In Oregon alone, seven homes were evacuated during the night near the tiny desert town of Monument, and 27 homes were under threat.

Nine major fires were raging through some 102,000 acres (41,000 hectares)

Some 10,000 firefighters have been dealing with the blazes but Sheri Ascherfeld, an official at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said fire services were running out of personnel, fire engines and firefighting helicopters.

Officials have begun talking to their Canadian counterparts about borrowing equipment.

A heatwave raising the temperature to between 35C and 40C (95F-104F) has been affecting the area, which has seen little rain in recent months.

"We're worried about the weather, particularly for Oregon," said David Widmark, an information officer at the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center in Portland, Oregon.


In northern California, crews battled to prevent a 31,000-acre (12,400-hectare) blaze, about 13 miles (21 km) east of the town of Likely in Lassen County from spreading to two other communities - Eagleville and Jess Valley.

Wayne Chandler, a fire information officer for Modoc National Forest, said that fire wasn't expected to be fully under control until next Wednesday.

California firefighter takes a nap
The gruelling work takes its toll
But the state's largest fire, east of Ravendale near the Nevada border, that had grown to 67,700 acres (27,080 hectares) on Wednesday morning should be 100% under control by the evening, a spokesman for the Susanville Interagency Fire Center said.

Traffic was severely disrupted on the road from Lake Tahoe to San Francisco because of a relatively small fire in the Sierra Nevada.


In Washington state there was not one fire contained out of 22,000 acres (8,900 hectares) in flames.

A 27,000-acre (10,800 hectare) fire on the Colville Indian Reservation had destroyed six homes and was threatening 50 others and other fires were reported burning near Leavenworth and Yakima.

Crews in northern Nevada have claimed victory over a fire north of Battle Mountain but a nearby fire that was only 25% contained at 11,000 acres (4,400 hectares) still needed attention.

Elsewhere in the state the mining hamlet of Midas was still threatened by a group of fires.

And in western Canada, a fire near Princeton, British Columbia, nearly doubled overnight to 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares), a forest service official said on Wednesday

Other fires are reported to be burning in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.

See also:

15 Aug 01 | Americas
In pictures: US forest fires
30 Jul 01 | Americas
Wyoming forest fire under control
28 Aug 00 | Americas
Wind fans US wildfires
08 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Flourishing forests need fires
11 Jul 00 | Europe
Fighting forest fires
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