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Thousands evacuated as Idaho wildfire grows

AP: More than 2,300 houses were evacuated in Idaho this week as strong winds stoked the nearby Beaver Creek Fire. The wildfire, reportedly ignited by lightning Aug. 7, is estimated to have grown to 144 square miles and is 6 percent contained. 

More than 700 firefighters are battling the blaze near the Idaho ski town Ketchum.

An additional 7,500 homes are on evacuation alert as the fire continues to grow. 

Photo: Helicopters battle the 64,000 acre Beaver Creek Fire on Friday, Aug., 16, 2013 north of Hailey, Idaho. A number of residential neighborhoods have been evacuated because of the blaze.(AP Photo/Times-News, Ashley Smith)

Who Are The Hotshots? A Wildland Firefighting Primer

Superior profile from NatGeo.

Loss of 19 firefighters in Arizona blaze 'unbearable,' governor says

1/5th of department lost. “Hotshots" are our nation’s most elite fire fighter. They work in teams of 20, and hike miles while carrying 40-50 pounds of equipment each into extreme terrains. They are very physically strong, train for many months, and are pridefully dedicated to protecting America’s lands. According to an official quoted in this article, Hotshots work long hours and will often sleep near the wildfires to help teams develop fire lines (a technique used to stop fires from spreading). I hate to say that more brave firefighters will be hurt and possibly die due to increasing droughts and extreme temperatures over the decades to come. 

They were part of an elite squad confronting wildfires on the front line, setting up barriers to stop the spreading destruction. But in their unpredictable world, it doesn’t take much to turn a situation deadly.

In this case, a wind shift and other factors caused a central Arizona fire, which now spans almost 9,000 acres, to become erratic, said Mike Reichling, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman.

The inferno proved too much, even for the shelters the 19 firefighters carried as a last-ditch survival tool.

"The fuels were very dry, the relative humidity was low, the wind was coming out of the south. It turned around on us because of monsoon action," Reichling told CNN affiliate KNXV. "That’s what caused the deaths.

The firefighters from Prescott were killed Sunday while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix.

Click through for the Denver Post’s coverage of the Black Forest Fire, the worst in the state’s history. The cause of the fire is unknown, but the severity is traced to persistent drought, massive tree deaths by bark beetles, dry soils, and budget cuts.

Firefighting capacity for wildfires curbed by Obama's funding cuts

Marines called in to help fight wildfires.

Wildfires roast western states

At least 70 large fires were burning across 13 states west of the Mississippi River, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. California had the most with 13, followed by Nevada with 12 and Idaho with 10, the center said.

The Marines joined the fight on Wednesday, with helicopter units from California joining U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units from Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina and California in fighting the fires by air. The Marine units will help fight fires around San Diego.


Active wildfires in the US.

Full story at NBC

Canada Chops Environmental Reviews, Fires Scientists, Responders

"…hundreds of federal scientists in charge of environmental monitoring are being laid off as part of the 1,500 government professionals affected by Conservative budget cuts.

"Doctors, biologists, chemists are being shown the door. These scientists monitor environmental changes that can threaten the health of Canadians," said MP Hélène LeBlanc…

"Prime Minister Harper has dropped any pretence that he cares about Canada’s natural environment, reducing the federal government’s oversight role to miniscule proportions," said May, who represents British Columbia’s Saanich-Gulf Islands in Parliament."


Click through. Stunning photographs of recent wildfires in the southwest.


In Focus: Western Wildfires

The sky turns a brilliant orange as smoke from the High Park Fire fills the sky near Laporte, Colorado, on June 10, 2012.

See more. [Image: Reuters]

This fire may have been caused by a state controlled burn.


Lower North Fork Fire in Jefferson County, Colorado

— More than 400 firefighters from several states were focusing on building containment lines around the wildfire, which broke out Monday. Until now, the fire’s erratic pattern has forced firefighters to focus on protecting homes, not stopping the burn.

  • Crews have been able to achieve 15% containment on the fire. The current affected area has been updated to 4140 acres.
  • Air crews dropped more than 4100 gallons of retardant on the fire on Wednesday.
  • The number of damaged structures remains at 27. The owners of all but one structure have been notified.
  • A search team using dogs continues to look for a woman missing in the fire zone. Her home was among those destroyed or damaged.
  • Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has suspended the use of state prescribed burns like the one that may have caused the fire.

We have more photos of the blaze.

The Arizona Wallow Fire is the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history. It is only 38% contained and has burned 500,409 acres.