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Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Little respite from US wildfires
Charred trees in South Dakota (8 July 2007)
The wildfire in South Dakota was started by lighting

Overnight rain and cooler temperatures have slowed a wildfire in South Dakota, as more than a dozen other fires sweep across the western United States.

The wildfire in South Dakota's Black Hills has burned some 28 sq km (11 sq miles) and killed one person trying to retrieve possessions from a home.

Wildfires have also damaged California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Washington, New Mexico, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

Many of the blazes have been fuelled by high winds and hot, dry conditions.

Temperatures as high as 38C (100F) have followed a drier-than-normal winter, creating what many firefighters described as the "perfect wildfire season".

The heatwave is expected to spread to the east of the country later this week.

'Not over yet'

The change in weather in South Dakota gave firefighters a chance to reinforce their fire lines and take control of around 20% of the blaze.

Fire crews expect to have it fully contained by Thursday.

This fire could come back to life again
Joe Lowe
S Dakota state wildfire co-ordinator

However, South Dakota state wildland fire co-ordinator Joe Lowe warned the conditions could shift again for the worse.

"This fire is not over yet," he said. "This fire could come back to life again."

The wildfire was started by lightning on Saturday, and by Monday had scorched around 28 sq km (11 sq miles) south-west of the town of Hot Springs.

At least 27 houses were destroyed and one person was killed when they went back to save their possessions from their home.

"It came out of the canyon with a vengeance," Mr Lowe said.

"This thing blew up because of extreme hot temperatures and the winds."

Lightning strikes

In Utah, the largest wildfire in state history has destroyed almost 300,000 acres (120,000 hectares).

Several road accidents have occurred on a stretch of highway near Richfield, Utah, including one in which two people were killed. Highway patrols blamed poor visibility from smoke.

Fire near Fillmore, Utah, 8 July 2007
The hot, dry weather conditions have fuelled the wildfires

Last week, another wildfire still active in the state killed three people.

More than 34,000 acres (13,800 hectares) have been scorched in California's Inyo National Forest and campgrounds had to be evacuated.

In the Los Padres National Forest in southern California 11 firefighters were injured as they battled to save 22 homes.

Residents were evacuated from nearly 300 properties over the weekend near Wenatchee, Washington, where high winds have fanned fires.

In Nevada, some 1,500 evacuees were allowed home after a fire at an electrical substation shut down the inter-state highway and caused major disruptions to train services.

Many of the fires have been blamed on lightning strikes in tinder-dry forest areas, after a mild winter which saw lower-than-average rainfalls.

Graphic showing spread of wildfires




SEE ALSO
California wildfire in new surge
27 Jun 07 |  Americas
Eye in the sky for wildfire risks
21 Dec 06 |  Science/Nature
LA wildfires: Your pictures
09 May 07 |  In Pictures
Wildfire sweeps Los Angeles hills
13 Apr 07 |  Americas

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