Western United States Ablaze as 60 Fires Have Consumed Over 703,000 Acres Destroying Hundreds of Homes

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Pawnee Fire. Credit: curbed

Nearly 60 fires have consumed more than 703,000 acres, from Alaska, where 19 large fires were reported, to California, Colorado, and Utah, where at least six wildfires continue to burn in each state, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

The risk of new fires throughout the drought-stricken Western US remains high amid the expected use of fireworks by revelers over the July 4th holiday. Ed Delgaldo, the center’s national program manager for predictive services, said in a video on the agency’s website that significant drought conditions across the Four Corners region, the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico, have persisted heading into the peak summer months.

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The California wildfires have spread across more than 70,000 acres since they began burning on June 23. Credit: Cal Fire Facebook

Cal Fire reported that in northern California’s Yolo County, a wildfire that started Saturday afternoon had grown to 72,500 acres and was 15% contained. The wind-fueled wildfire in Northern California is now threatening more than 900 buildings and continues to send a thick layer of smoke and ash as far as south of San Francisco.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Anthony Brown said Tuesday at least 2,500 people have been told to evacuate as the sprawling blaze continues to spread and the blaze surging through rugged terrain northwest of Sacramento has grown to 109 square miles amid hot and dry weather expected throughout the day. More than 2,000 firefighters are working by air and on the ground to try to contain the blaze burning in Yolo and Napa counties. Cal Fire is asking people to use caution when lighting up fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday.

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A wildfire burns through trees and ground cover outside Panguitch, Utah, on June 25, 2017. Multiple wildfires are now burning in Utah. Credit: GEORGE FREY/GETTY IMAGES

In Utah, authorities have forced mandatory evacuations of up to 300 homes because of a growing wildfire near a popular fishing reservoir southeast of Salt Lake City amid hot temperatures and high winds. Several structures have been lost since the fire started Sunday, but it’s unclear how many, said Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands. The Dollar Ridge fire in Duchesne County, Utah, has grown to five times its original size, currently burning 30,000 acres.

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Jesper Jorgensen and the Spring Fire, CO. Credit: The Denver Channel

The Spring Creek fire is among the largest in Colorado, burning nearly 80,000 acres by early Tuesday, when it was just 5% contained, according to Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team. More than 100 homes have been destroyed during the fire, which also has forced evacuations from more than 2,000 homes in the southern part of the state since last Wednesday. Matt Booth’s family summer home in La Veta, Colorado had been reduced to rubble in the fire:

“Complete annihilation. Just total devastation beyond anything I thought there would be,” Booth said.

On Saturday, Jesper Joergensen, 52, was arrested on arson charges linked to the Spring Creek fire, the Costilla County Sheriff’s Office said.

Nearly 60 large, active blazes are burning across the West, including nine in New Mexico and six each in Utah and California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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