Firefighters working in the hot weather struggled to control the Northern California wildfires that continued to spread on Sunday and forced a major highway to be temporarily closed. This was one of several fires in the western United States. Another heat wave broke records and strained the power grid.
In Arizona, on Saturday, two firefighters crashed an airplane that crashed while investigating a small wildfire in rural Mojave County. The Beech C-90 aircraft was helping to detect a lightning-induced fire in the Cedar Basin near the small community of Wikieup when it crashed around noon.
There are only two firefighters on board. Officials determined that one of them was Jeff Pichola, who was a retired fire chief in Tucson who worked for the US Forest Service. Before the relative was notified, the name of the other person was concealed. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.
In California, a fire in southern Oregon destroyed interstate power lines and prevented up to 5,500 megawatts of electricity from flowing south to the state. Officials demanded that all residents quickly reduce electricity consumption.
The California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s power grid, said on Saturday that due to the soaring temperature in the area, the Bootleg fire caused three power transmission lines to be cut off, resulting in a shortage of power supply.
The National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, said on Twitter on Sunday: “The piracy fire today will see the potential for extreme growth.”
Driven by strong winds, the fire spread in the dense timber of Fremont-Vinema National Forest (near Sprague River Township, Klamath County) in Oregon, spreading to 580 square kilometers.
Unstable wind is a problem
In the southeast, California’s largest wildfire this year is raging near the border with Nevada. The Beckwourth Complex Fire-the fire caused by two flashes of lightning burning 72 kilometers north of Lake Tahoe-doubled in size between Friday and Saturday, there is no sign of spreading northeast from the forested area of ??the Sierra Nevada.
Later on Saturday, flames spread from U.S. Highway 395, which was closed near Doyle, a small town in Lassen County, California. The driveway reopened on Sunday, and officials urged motorists to proceed with caution and continue along the key north-south route where the fire is still active.
“Don’t stop to take pictures,” said Jack Kagle, head of California’s Incident Management Operations Department. “If you stop and see what happened, you will hinder our actions.”
Cagle said that Doyle’s building was burned down, but he did not have an exact figure. Bob Prary, who manages the Buck-Inn bar in the town of approximately 600 people, said that after the outbreak on Saturday, he saw at least six houses destroyed. On Sunday, Doyle and the surrounding fires were smoldering, but he worried that some remote pastures were still in danger.
“It looks like the worst situation in the town has passed, but back on the mountainside, the fire is still strong. Not sure what will happen if the wind changes,” Prali said. Kagle pointed out that unstable wind is a concern for firefighters, and gusts are expected to reach 32 km/h.
The fire was controlled by only 9%, and the fire expanded to 339 square kilometers. The temperature in the area may again exceed 37 degrees Celsius on Sunday.
Temperatures in Death Valley are as high as 53 degrees Celsius
This is one of several fires threatening homes in the western states. As the high pressure zone covers the area, the high temperature is expected to reach triple digits throughout the weekend.
According to readings by the National Weather Service in Furnace Creek, Death Valley in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California reached 53 degrees Celsius on Saturday. The shocking high temperature was actually lower than the day before, when the location reached 54 degrees Celsius.
Death Valley also recorded 54 C days in August last year. If the expert confirms that the reading and that Friday are accurate, they will be the highest temperature recorded there since July 1913, when the Furnace Desert reached 57 degrees Celsius, which is considered the highest temperature measured on earth.
The National Weather Service warned that this dangerous situation could lead to heat-related diseases.
On Saturday, Palm Springs in Southern California also set a record high of 49 degrees Celsius, while Las Vegas tied the record of 47 degrees Celsius.
NV Energy, the largest electricity supplier in Nevada, also urges customers to save electricity on Saturday and Sunday nights, as heat waves and wildfires affect transmission lines throughout the region.
In Idaho, Governor Brad Little mobilized the state’s National Guard to help extinguish fires caused by thunderstorms that swept through dry areas.