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article imageOver 100 large wildfires blazing in U.S. as more fires erupt

By Karen Graham     Aug 12, 2018 in Environment
Six large new wildfires erupted in the United States on Saturday, pushing the number of major active blazes nationwide to over 100, with more expected to break out sparked by lightning strikes on bone-dry terrain, say fire officials.
The U.S. fire season in the western part of the country is as bad as it can get this year. The fire season started earlier than usual and hot, dry conditions have made a bad situation even worse.
As of Saturday, August 11, the National Fire Information Center (NFIC) reported wildfires had burned more than 5.58 million acres nationwide, an area roughly the size of New Jersey. More than 30,000 fire personnel, including 140 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand are battling the blazes.
As of Sunday, August 12, the NFIC is reporting "more than 30,000 firefighters and support personnel continue to work on 110 large fires that have burned 1.7 million acres in 14 states. Extreme fire behavior was reported in Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Washington."
“We are expecting that there will be more fire-starts today,” Jeremy Grams, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma, said in an interview with Reuters on Saturday.
Dry thunderstorms and heat
Sunday’s fire weather map shows a large upper-level trough moving east through the northern Rockies into the Dakotas. A surface front is expected to push strong winds over the northern Plains, and critical fire weather is likely to develop over the western Dakotas according to the National Weather Service.
Dry thunderstorms, which produce lightning but little or no rain, are expected for parts of the Rocky Mountain region today, while the U.S. northwest has critical fire weather conditions that include strong winds and low relative humidity.
The fire season in the western U.S. usually lasts into October, when cooler weather, rains, and snow begin to have an effect on the fires.
Update on some of the largest fires
The 190,873-acre (77,243-hectare) Carr Fire in California has destroyed nearly 1,100 homes. Further southwest of the Carr fire, about 3,500 firefighters are still battling the Mendocino Complex Fire, which has burned 328,226 acres (132,828 hectares) as of Saturday and was the largest fire on record in California.
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