Firefighters gain on Northern California wildfire

Containment has grown around the blaze, dubbed the Pawnee Fire which is burning near Sacramento

Reuters June 27, 2018
Fire fighters gain on Northern California forest fires. Photo: REUTERS.

CALIFORNIA: Firefighters have made progress against a wildfire burning in Northern California that has threatened hundreds of buildings and forced hundreds of people to flee their homes, fire officials said.

Containment around the blaze, dubbed the Pawnee Fire, which
is burning about 70 miles (110 km) northwest of Sacramento and
broke out on Saturday, has grown from five per cent to 17 per cent.

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It has destroyed 22 buildings and charred 13,000 acres (5,261 hectares), the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said late on Tuesday. The fire, in Lake County near the Mendocino National Forest, has forced about 1,500 people to leave their homes, the Lake County Sheriff's Department said.

The fire's growth on Tuesday was away from populated areas, the department said, adding that if that trend continues, residents may soon be allowed to return to their homes. California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Lake County on Monday which freed up resources.

By Tuesday more than 2,700 firefighters were battling the blaze. The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch for the area starting on Friday as winds are expected to gust up to 35 miles (56 km) per hour and humidity is expected to drop to 10%. The Pawnee is one of four major wildfires burning in California as temperatures rise and humidity drops across the state.

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Three other major fires in California all were more than 50% contained as of Tuesday night, according to Cal Fire. None of the fires are reported to have caused injuries. In New Mexico, most of the Carson National Forest will close on Wednesday. This will be the first time the 1.4 million acre (566,600 hectares) forest, larger than the state of Delaware, will close because of drought since 2011.

The closure is "strictly precautionary" and called due to the area being in the highest level of drought. The New Mexico fire is not expected to threaten any structures, the Carson National Forest said.


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