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article imageWildfires in California and Colorado fueled by brutal heatwave

By Karen Graham     Aug 16, 2020 in Environment
Firefighters in Southern Californian and in Colorado are struggling to contain multiple wildfires in brutal dry heat, and in some areas, windy conditions. The fires have forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes and triggered air quality alerts.
In California's North, South and East Bay areas, lightning and winds gusts up to 66 mph (88.5 kph) sparked fires and power outages on Sunday morning, adding to the number of fires, including the three wildfires near Los Angeles.
The huge Lake Fire was just 12 percent contained as of Sunday morning, having burned 17,862 acres. Around 5,400 homes are still under threat from the blaze, with 21 buildings being destroyed, including five homes, reports KRON4.
The whole state of California is plagued with a heat wave that has caused temperatures to soar into the triple digits over the weekend, and unhealthy air has been predicted for many parts of the state. There also is a chance of isolated thunderstorms worsening the fire threat by creating dry lightning and strong downdrafts, fire officials said.
The Ranch Fire has burned 2,500 acres and is 0 percent contained as of Sunday morning, and the Elk Fire, at 700 acres is now 5 percent contained. Firefighters are also battling approximately five different fires totaling around 60 acres in the Round Valley Area in Contra Costa County.
An air quality advisory through Monday has been issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District due to numerous wildfires caused by lightning overnight. Additionally, a Red Flag alert has been extended through 11a.m. Monday due to dry lightning fire danger for the region.
"If possible, stay inside with windows and doors closed until smoke levels subside, if temperatures allow," the district said. "It is also recommended that those impacted by smoke set their air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside."
Colorado wildfires
We talked about the size of the Pine Gulch Fire becoming the fourth largest fire in Colorado's recorded history, and it has made it, with about 81,107 acres burned, or about 126.7 square miles. As of Sunday morning, it was 7 percent contained.
The blaze is burning in rough terrain and has been fueled by dry vegetation, high winds and low humidity. The wildfire was started by lightning on July 31 and is burning about 18 miles north of Grand Junction.
The Grizzley Creek Fire has grown to 25,690 acres, or about 40 square miles, and firefighters have succeeded in protecting the town of No Name and stopped the fire from spreading to the east. The blaze is 0 percent contained and did manage to spread to the south and has become very active west of Bair Ranch, fire officials said. The fire started Monday in Glenwood Canyon.
“Crews will engage the fire where they safely can,” a Sunday update from the U.S. Forest Service read, reports the Denver Post. “Direct attack of the fire has been difficult due to the rugged and steep terrain.”
The Cameron Peak Fire nearly doubled in size overnight reaching 10,867 acres or about 16.9 square miles by Sunday morning. The blaze, which started in Larimer County on Thursday in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests near Cameron Pass and Chambers Lake, is 0% contained.
The Williams Creek fire has grown to about 6,000 acres \as of Sunday, and is 0 percent contained. Firefighters expect to see “extreme fire behavior” throughout the day, said Schelly Olson, Grand County public information officer. “The fire was very active through the day yesterday,” she said, “But as of today we are still holding it east of County Road 30 and south of Keyser Ridge.”
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