Fires within the West: As two California wildfires merge and threaten a small neighborhood, firefighters are uncovered to harmful situations

The Bootleg Fire destroyed 161 homes and 247 outbuildings.

Cooling temperatures and the likelihood of isolated showers until Wednesday should support the fight. However, according to Inciweb, aggressive fire behavior is expected to return later in the week as temperatures rise and rise again.

“We will continue operations with a focus on the safety of the community and our firefighters,” said incident commander Norm McDonald. “We are working with community and government partners to suppress the fire as effectively as possible to protect wood, ranch land and other local values.”

A busy US fire season this year charred more than 2.82 million acres, mostly in the western states, with active wildfires burning 1.5 million acres. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 79 active large forest fires are burning in 12 states. Over the weekend, two fires – the Dixie and Fly fires in Northern California – melted together in the National Forests Lassen and Plumas. The combination caused the 15th largest fire in the state’s history and resulted in evacuation orders for more than 7,800 residents in two counties, California Emergency Services spokesman Bryan May told CNN early Tuesday. according to Inciweb. Officials have not yet determined the cause of the fire that started on July 13.Fires across the country have resulted in air quality issues, evacuations and property damage as a drought continues to grasp much of the west. Air quality warnings were issued in 12 counties of Montana on Monday due to smoking problems. 19 major forest fires are currently burning in the state, according to the NIFC.

The heat only exacerbates the problems for those fighting the fires as well as those who stay behind to protect their property from the flames.

Nearly 40 million people were on heat alert across the central US on Tuesday, where it will either be or feel like above 100 degrees.

“Stressful, scary” situation

Mandatory evacuations were ordered in Plumas County on Sunday as the Dixie fire continued to widen.

“You should leave the area immediately. If you stay, the emergency services may not be able to help you,” warned an emergency alert from the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office.

But one man said he stayed behind to watch his animals and protect his land.

Employees of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe train lines protect the tracks with a mobile sprinkler system during the Dixie Fire in Quincy, California on July 26th.Jon Cappleman told CNN subsidiary KCRA that staying on his property was a challenge.

“It’s very stressful, scary at times. Last night … you could see the glow over the hill right there, ”he said. “The firefighters put it out or knocked it down until the glow suddenly went away and I was just relieved.”

Indian Falls video captured by KCRA shows smoldering land, orange skies, and damaged cars and buildings.

Cappleman told the subsidiary that conditions have worsened as thick, acrid smoke fills the sky and road closures prevent him from getting food for his animals.

“The smoke is acidic, it burns your lungs. It just went down in oxygen, it’s probably only around 85%,” he said.

Community suffers significant loss in Dixie Fire

The fire engulfed much of the Indian Falls, located along CA-89 in California’s Plumas National Forest, northwest of Reno, Nevada.

“It’s safe to say that everyone in this small community has been affected by this fire,” Sheriff Todd Johns told CNN on Monday in an email.

Burned vehicles smolder on property during the Dixie Fire in the Indian Falls area of ​​Unincorporated Plumas County.

“We have not been able to actually evaluate this area at this time because of the active fire in the area and the hazards,” said Johns. “Apart from that, there was a considerable loss of structure.”

The sheriff estimated that 18 out of 25 full-time homes in Indian Falls were lost to the fire.

Chris Carlton, Plumas National Forest Supervisor, said Sunday, “There are people who have lost their homes.

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The span of the Dixie Fire is huge, with the outer perimeter of the fire being about 82 miles long, according to Cal Fire Chief Mike Wink.

“It’s 80 miles from Chico to Sacramento, and there are roughly 5,500 firefighters from here to Sacramento,” he said.

Firefighters fight in dangerous conditions

Road closures were also a problem as firefighters tried to gain an advantage over the flames.

In a video update posted Monday night on the Lassen National Forest’s Facebook page, fire behavior analyst Dennis Burns said the fire had spread across a road that firefighters had planned to bring more resources to Taylorsville.

The steep terrain and extreme fire behavior have created dangerous conditions for firefighters, including hot-shot crews working on the Dixie Fire.

“Steep slopes, lots of rolling materials, lots of dead trees falling, so I can’t stress enough the danger these firefighters face in trying to keep this up,” said Burns.

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He said crews must be methodical so as not to aggravate the fire by spotting if a fire creates sparks or embers that are carried by the wind and ignite new fires.

“We really want to go slowly because if you put a lot of heat on it will make the staining problem worse,” said Burns.

“What we saw is that even without a lot of wind, detection is a problem,” said Burns. “The more heat you put on it, the farther the embers go. So if we use low-intensity fire in the absence of wind, which we have because it is so smoky here, the chances that we will misfire are much better. ” Success.”

CNN’s Jenn Selva, Stella Chan and Robert Shackelford contributed to this report.

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