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Thread: 2017 Wildfires

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    Exclamation 2017 Wildfires

    Dozens of people lose their lives with many being incinerated to death...

    Deadliest ever forest fire blazes through central Portugal, dozens burnt to death as firefighters battle fiery flames
    Sunday 18th June, 2017 -- A forest fire, that is being described as the deadliest ever single forest to rage through Portugal, led to dozens of people losing their lives and many being incinerated to death.
    Jorge Gomes, the secretary of state for internal affairs said that the devastating forest blaze that broke out in central Portugal on Saturday has left 58 people dead with 18 of them being 'incinerated' while they were trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera - an inland area with many hotels and holiday resorts. In addition, 59 people were injured and many people still remain missing as homes are wrecked due to the inferno about 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon. Gomes added that three others died from smoke inhalation in Figueiro dos Vinhos.

    Meanwhile, describing the blaze as “the biggest tragedy,” the Portuguese prime minister, António Costa said, “We are facing the greatest tragedy of human victims of recent times by a disaster of this type.” Reports stated that the fire, that broke out as the country witnesses temperatures of up to 40C, is possibly the deadliest ever single forest blaze to hit Portugal. Authorities claimed that over 600 firefighters were battling the flames and were helped by Spanish rescuers as teams of psychologists were deployed to care for survivors, who are 'in shock' and have lost relatives. Firemen are currently battling the blaze on four different fronts, fanned by the heat and wind.


    On Sunday morning, emergency services described the “horrible scenario” and described the blaze as “almost impossible to control.” The head of the national judicial police told Portuguese media that a lightning strike is believed to have sparked the blaze in the Pedrogao Grande area after investigators found a tree that was hit during a 'dry thunderstorm.’ With many people still missing, authorities fear that the death toll might rise further. Officials also noted that several roads of the Pedrogao Grande area, 50 km (30 miles) south-east of Coimbra, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and university town popular with tourists and international students, have been cut off.

    Valdemar Alves, mayor of Pedrogao Grande said, “This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions. I am completely stunned by the number of deaths.” Further, authorities in central Portugal believe that dry thunderstorms, that are triggered when falling water evaporates before reaching the ground because of high temperatures, are responsible for fueling the fire. The Prime Minister meanwhile said that firefighting crews were having difficulties in approaching the area because the fire was “very intense.” He added that Portuguese authorities were working on identifying the victims and that Spanish rescuers would assist in efforts to control the blazes. Like most southern European countries, Portugal is prone to forest fires in the dry summer months.

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    Portugal awaits foreign help to fight deadly wildfires
    Monday 19th June, 2017 -- More than 2,000 firefighters in Portugal battled Monday to contain major wildfires in the central region of the country, where one blaze killed 62 people, while authorities came under mounting criticism for not doing more to prevent the tragedy.
    Reinforcements, including more water-dropping planes from Spain, France and Italy, were due to arrive as part of a European Union cooperation program, officials said. Portugal is observing three days of national mourning after the deaths Saturday night around the town of Pedrogao Grande, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Lisbon, which is by far the deadliest on record. Scorching weather, with temperatures surpassing 40 C (104 F), as well as strong winds and dry woodland after weeks with little rain fueled the blazes. The fire area is covered in dense woodland over steep hills.

    Meanwhile, Portugal's leading environmental lobby group, Quercus, issued a statement Monday blaming the blazes on "forest management errors and bad political decisions" by governments over recent decades. The association rebuked authorities for allowing the planting of huge swathes of eucalyptus , the country's most common and most profitable species - but one that's often blamed for stoking blazes. Quercus also said official bodies don't do enough to coordinate wildfire prevention. Emergency services have been criticized for not closing a road where 47 of the deaths occurred as people fled the flames Saturday night. The government has acknowledged that the huge fires occasionally led to a breakdown in communications.


    Portuguese firefighters work to stop a forest fire from reaching the village of Figueiro dos Vinhos central Portugal, Sunday, June 18, 2017. Portugal's president says the country's pain "knows no end" as it mourns at least 61 people killed in the deadliest wildfire in memory.

    Wildfires are an annual scourge in Portugal. Between 1993 and 2013, Portugal recorded the highest annual number of forest fires in southern Europe, including Spain, France, Italy and Greece, according to a report last year by the European Environment Agency, even though it is the smallest of those countries.

    The government announced a raft of new measures against wildfires in March. They included restrictions on eucalyptus plantations and a simplified and cheaper program of property registration that seeks to ascertain which land is being neglected. Not all of those reforms have come into legal force yet. Statistics show that 35 percent of Portugal is covered by woodland, slightly above the 28-nation European Union average of 31 percent. The forest industry, especially the production of paper pulp, accounts for around 3 percent of GDP.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories...06-19-02-46-47
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    Portugal forest fires: Three days of mourning for 62 victims
    Sun, 18 Jun 2017 : Many were burned to death in their cars as they tried to flee the fires in central Portugal.
    Portugal has declared three days of mourning for the 62 victims of one of the country's deadliest forest fires. Four children are among the victims, many of whom were found dead inside their cars as they tried to flee the central forested region of Pedrógão Grande. Hundreds of firefighters are continuing to tackle the blaze on several fronts. Prime Minister Antonio Costa called it "the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires". He said it was thought to have been sparked by a lightning strike.


    The wildfires spread fast on Saturday, and across several fronts

    Four firefighters are among the 54 people injured in the fire, which is raging in several parts of a mountainous area some 200km north-east of the capital Lisbon. There are fears the death toll could rise, as a number of people are still missing. The period of national mourning ends on Tuesday.

    Bodies found inside cars

    Emergency service workers were battling 156 fires across the country on Sunday, Prime Minister Costa said, adding that most of the victims had died in just one of them. Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes said that most had died from smoke inhalation and burns, while two were killed in a road accident related to the fires. Thirty bodies were found inside cars, with another 17 next to the vehicles, on one road leading on to the IC8 motorway. Another 11 died in a village next to the motorway.


    More than 1,600 firefighters are fighting five of the main fires, supported by about 400 vehicles and 18 aircraft, Portugal's Público reports. According to the prime minister, just 11 fires are still active but he said the authorities were "particularly worried about two of them". They have sent two army battalions to help the emergency services.

    'I could have died, I should have died' - fire survivor's tale

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    Awful.

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    Wildfire season out west...

    California fires spread; blazes tamed in Colorado
    Mon, Jul 10, 2017 - A pair of California wildfires have quickly spread, threatening hundreds of homes and forcing evacuations at a popular lakeside campground and a summer camp where flames temporarily trapped children and counselors, a fire official said.
    In other parts of the western US, evacuation orders were lifted in Colorado and Montana towns threatened by wildfires, while air and ground crews battled a growing grass fire in northwestern Colorado. The fire that started early on Saturday afternoon in California’s Santa Barbara County had spread to both sides of Highway 154 and was “completely out of control,” county Fire Department Captain Dave Zaniboni said. About 90 children and 50 counselors were struck at the Circle V Ranch and had to take shelter there until they could be safely evacuated. The Santa Barbara County fire was one of three in California that grew quickly as much of the state baked in heat that broke records.

    A record that stood 131 years in Los Angeles was snapped when the temperature spiked at 36.7°C downtown. The previous record of 35°C was set in 1886, the US National Weather Service said. Forecasters warned that temperatures up to 43.3°C would be common in some inland areas and could be deadly for the elderly, children and outdoor workers. Air quality reached “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” levels in areas inland from Los Angeles. High temperatures and dry gusts tripled the size of another Santa Barbara wildfire to about 77km2 over eight hours and forced evacuations of about 200 homes in a rural area east of Santa Maria, fire spokesman Kirk Sturm said.


    Cars drive past flames from the “Wall Fire” along Forbestown Road in Oroville, California

    After five years of severe drought, California got a big break with record rainfall and snowpack in parts of the state this year that has delayed the start of fire season in some places, but has also led to explosive vegetation growth that could fuel future fires. In northern California, a Butte County wildfire swept through grassy foothills and destroyed 10 structures, including homes, and led to several minor injuries. The blaze about 97km north of Sacramento grew rapidly to nearly 11km2 and was 20 percent contained, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

    The area burning was about 16km south of Oroville, where spillways in the nation’s tallest dam began crumbling from heavy rains this winter and led to temporary evacuation orders for 200,000 residents downstream. In Colorado, residents of nearly 500 homes outside the ski town of Breckenridge were allowed to return home on Friday night. The grass fire in northwestern Colorado had burned 47km2 and was spreading in several directions at once because of wind patterns from passing thunderstorms, fire information officer Chris Barth said. A wildfire in southern Wyoming grew to 8km2. An unknown number of cabins remained under evacuation orders.

    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/worl.../10/2003674283

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    Wildfire season out west...

    Wildfires force children to flee from California summer camps
    Sunday 9th July, 2017 - Wildfires have swept across wide areas of the western US and Canada, destroying homes, forcing thousands to flee and temporarily trapping children and staff at a California camp ground.
    In northern California, a wildfire swept through grassy foothills in the Sierra Nevada and destroyed at least 10 structures and threatened more than 750 homes. The blaze about 60 miles north of Sacramento grew rapidly to more than seven square miles and was nearly 20% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "It made a huge run last night," fire spokeswoman Mary Ann Aldrich said. More homes were destroyed but fire officials have not had a chance to assess the damage. Instead, they were focused on protecting structures while battling the fire in hot, sometimes windy conditions. "It's far from out, we're going to be here for several days if not more," Ms Aldrich said.

    The area burning was about 10 miles south of Oroville, where spillways in the nation's tallest dam began crumbling from heavy rains this winter and led to temporary evacuation orders for 200,000 residents downstream. Authorities said the fire sent hundreds of people fleeing from their homes. In southern California, residents and campers were sent scrambling as two fires exploded in size at separate ends of Santa Barbara County. Crews were getting a break from slightly cooler temperatures and diminishing winds on Sunday as they battled the pair of blazes that destroyed structures and closed a highway.


    One of the fires grew to 12 square miles, traversing a mountain range and heading south towards coastal Goleta. "The plan is to hit it with air tankers to keep it from moving to the south and to the east," said county fire Captain Dave Zaniboni. "There's less heat and less wind, which makes things a little easier." There was minimal containment and flames shut down State Route 154, which is expected to remain closed for days. At least 20 structures burned. About 90 children and 50 counsellors were stuck on Saturday at the Circle V Ranch and had to take shelter until they could be safely evacuated.

    Crews were also using an air attack against another blaze about 50 miles north that exploded in size to 37.5 square miles. About 200 rural homes east of Santa Maria were evacuated after the fire broke out on Saturday and was fed by dry gusts. In Colorado, firefighters built containment lines around about half the wildfire that forced the evacuation of hundreds of people near Breckenridge. The fire has not spread since it broke out on Wednesday and was still less than a square mile on Sunday. In rural Arizona, fire officials said three homes were among 10 buildings that were burned. The wildfire there has led to the evacuation of the entire town of Dudleyville, about 100 miles south east of Phoenix.

    A wildfire burning near Summer Lake in south-central Oregon has destroyed a hunting cabin and an outbuilding. In Nevada, fire officials ordered evacuations for a wildfire near the area where another blaze has already burned for days. In Canada, firefighters were contending with more than 200 wildfires burning in British Columbia that had destroyed dozens of buildings, including several homes and two airport hangars. The three biggest fires, which ranged in size from five to eight square miles, had forced thousands of people to flee.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/ne...-35910277.html
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    'No time to get scared:' Evacuees recount watching homes burn in B.C. wildfires
    Sunday 9th July, 2017 - 'We just reacted. There was no time to think. None'
    A seasoned British Columbia firefighter says he’s never seen anything like the fast-moving wildfire that tore through his new home, leaving him and his neighbours scant seconds to escape. Wilfred Duncan moved into his friend’s house on the Ashcroft Indian Reserve two weeks ago, only to watch the home burn down after the wildfire overwhelmed the community, destroying more than 30 buildings. Duncan is a retired forestry firefighter with 20 years of experience, but said the Ashcroft blaze was overwhelming. “There was no time to get scared,” he said, speaking outside the evacuation services centre in Kamloops on Saturday. “We just reacted. There was no time to think. None.”

    The Ashcroft fire, about 100 kilometres west of Kamloops, ballooned Friday from seven to 40 square kilometres, prompting officials to order Ashcroft and then nearby Cache Creek to evacuate. “The way that was coming, there was no stopping it,” Duncan said. “We’re talking dry sagebrush, dry grass. What’s going to stop that? That’s just like lighting toilet paper on fire.” Duncan was on the front line of the Barriere wildfire in 2003, which is the last time the provincial government declared a B.C.-wide state of emergency because of fires, but he said it doesn’t compare to his experience in this disaster. “Maybe it’s different because here I was watching my friend’s home, my niece’s home burn,” he said, looking away as he blinked back tears. “What could we do but stand there and watch? Crying isn’t going to bring anything back.”


    A wildfire burns on a mountain near Ashcroft, B.C., late Friday July 7, 2017. More than 3,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes in central British Columbia. A provincial state of emergency was declared after 56 new wildfires started Friday

    A thick, smoky haze hung over Kamloops on Saturday, making it difficult to see the dry, brush-covered hills on either side of the Thompson River Valley. Sharon Rene and her husband were still looking for accommodation as of Saturday afternoon after leaving their home in Cache Creek. Rene described watching from her house on Friday as the flames from various fires burned in the surrounding hills. “It was quite surreal. The smoke was this bright, evil-looking, orangey red,” she said. “It moved very quickly on the ridge behind us. We just watched the fire and the smoke going across, hoping it would keep on going. And then we went out the back door and there was another one going up the other hill to the airport.”

    Angie Thorne, also a resident of the reserve in Ashcroft, said she and her husband managed to escape with their camper trailer before watching flames engulf their home of more than two decades. “The second trip in to get (my husband) out of there I drove through flames, got to him, told him to get out, then drove through flames to get back,” she said. The family lost a cat, but was later reunited with a black Labrador retriever, which Thorne said had been “scorched and seared.” Thorne said she is grateful her family is safe and for all the help they have received from the community, wiping away tears as she spoke outside the evacuation centre.

    Gordon Davis, the centre’s manager, said more than 500 people had registered as of Friday. Some of those who signed in would have represented entire families, he added, describing the mood as anxious. “A lot of them watched their homes burn down,” he said, as workers in yellow vests raced around the overcrowded room. “A lot of them don’t know if their homes are still there. That not knowing is stressful.” Children huddled near their families with brightly coloured hula hoops and bubble-blowing kits. The toys, along with food and other supplies, were donations from local businesses and community members.

    http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/...0-462f2b4ffd36

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    Granny says, "Dat's right - flames, fire an' vapors o' smoke - like inna Bible...

    Heat wave continues to bake California, largest active wildfires force nearly 8,000 people to evacuate
    Monday 10th July, 2017. - As the heat wave continues to bake California and the rest of the West, over 8,000 people have been forced to evacuate due to the raging wildfires.
    By Sunday evening, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that the wildfires were only 15 percent contained after burning more than 37 square miles, destroying homes and threatening thousands of structures across the state. According to authorities, firefighters battled two major blazes on opposite ends of Santa Barbara County along the Central Coast. On Sunday, firefighters were focused on protecting mountain peaks that hold crucial communication and electrical infrastructure, including a high-voltage line that carries power to Santa Barbara and neighboring cities. The state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that the Alamo fire that broke out near Highway 166 in northern Santa Barbara County, was the largest active fire in California.

    Further, the department added that at least 200 people were forced to evacuate a remote area east of Santa Maria, and about 1,000 firefighters from Los Angeles and across the state rushed to help control the flames. Officials with Los Padres National Forest said that about 35 miles to the south in Santa Barbara County, the Whittier fire near Lake Cachuma, burning just north of Goleta forced over 3,500 people to flee the area. The fire is said to have scorched over 12 square miles and burned 20 structures on both sides of Highway 154. When the fire started on Saturday afternoon, it trapped about 80 campers at the Circle V Ranch Camp, however, Capt. Dave Zaniboni of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department reassured that the campers were rescued by the U.S. Forest Service firefighters later that day. Firefighters working near Santa Ynez, aided by slightly lower temperatures on Sunday, saw a high of 91, compared to 106 on Saturday, and favorable winds blowing in from the Pacific that halted the fire’s spread downhill toward Goleta.


    Areas near the Santa Ynez Mountains, that were badly burned by two wildfires in the last decade, saw the blaze moving east and west. Jim Harris, deputy fire chief for Los Padres National Forest said that this would act as a good buffer, adding, that the firefighting effort in Santa Barbara County is in need of additional ”hotshot” fire crews with the kind of rugged engines that can navigate the steep dirt terrain where the fire is burning on the south-facing mountain slopes. According to Cal Fire’s unit in San Luis Obispo County, a third blaze broke out in the Central Coast on Sunday, about 30 miles east of Morro Bay. Official said that the fire quickly grew to 340 acres and threatened numerous structures. By Sunday evening, the fire was just 10 percent contained.

    Over the weekend, thousands of evacuees slept in their cars and shelters, waiting for instruction on whether they were allowed to return home. In other parts of California, over 4,000 people were under a mandatory evacuation order as the Wall fire tore through nearly eight square miles and destroyed 10 structures in a remote part of Butte County. Gov. Jerry Brown subsequently declared a state of emergency and devoted additional resources to the firefighting effort there. Cal fire said that by Sunday evening 17 percent of the fire was contained and that four people were injured by the Wall fire. The agency added that the fire was “actively” burning, pushing toward the northwest and southwest and leaving another 7,400 people under evacuation warnings.

    http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/2...le-to-evacuate
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    'This is going to be a long battle:' No end in sight to wildfires ravaging B.C. interior
    Monday 10th July, 2017 - More than 220 fires are burning in B.C.’s interior as of Sunday afternoon, including more than a dozen considered an immediate threat to communities
    Until Friday, it had been a quiet season for the British Columbia Wildfire Service, with staff busier helping with flood relief than fighting fires. But after two weeks of intense heat and dry conditions in the province’s interior, all that changed Friday when a system of dry lightning moved through central B.C. Randy Worsley, chief of the Wildwood Fire Department north of Williams Lake, said he was at the fire hall Friday when he saw a flash of lightning, literally out of the blue. “I saw lightning come down, and there were no clouds,” he said.

    Before the day was out, 140 fires had flared up across the province, the government had declared a state of emergency, and Worsley and his crew of volunteer firefighters were battling flames that surged within 10 metres of one home. “We went right in and knocked it back,” Worsley said Sunday by phone during a break. “Our objective is to preserve as many houses as possible, which we’ve done very well so far … We haven’t lost a structure yet.” With more than 220 fires burning in B.C.’s southern and central interior as of Sunday afternoon, including more than a dozen considered an immediate threat to communities, not everyone has been as fortunate.


    A wildfire burns on a mountain near Ashcroft, B.C., in the early morning hours of Saturday July 8, 2017. More than 3,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes in central British Columbia.

    John Ranta, Mayor of Cache Creek, said fire had destroyed at least five houses, 30 trailer homes and two hangars at a regional airport. Provincial officials estimate that 7,000 people have been forced from their homes by fires that show no sign of abating. “Friday was really the tipping point when we had a fairly significant weather system move through,” said Kevin Skrepnek, the province’s chief fire information officer. “It brought wind to most parts of the province. That was a key, critical challenge we had. But it also brought a significant amount of dry lightning particularly to central B.C., and that’s certainly what touched off the vast majority of new fires we are getting.” Skrepnek said not all of the fires started naturally.

    Conditions are dry enough that a cigarette butt, an untended campfire or a spark from an off-road vehicle could spell disaster. The province has begun closing provincial parks in affected areas and issued a campfire ban for southern B.C. “We’re definitely getting human-caused fires as well, and that’s particularly galling right now, given how intense it is,” Skrepnek said. In Kamloops, outgoing Premier Christy Clark met with evacuees and emergency officials Sunday and announced $100 million in relief funding. She warned that the situation could worsen. “We are in many ways just at the beginning of the worst part of the fire season,” she said. “We watch the weather, we watch the wind and we pray for rain. But our prayers aren’t always answered in these things, so we need to be there to support people in the meantime, because there are hundreds and hundreds of people who are scared to death right now.”

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    B.C. 'praying for rain' as wildfire crisis worsens: Premier Christy Clark
    Monday 10th July, 2017 - British Columbia is making $100 million available to communities and residents affected by wildfires to help them rebuild
    British Columbia is making $100 million available to communities and residents affected by wildfires to help them rebuild. Outgoing Premier Christy Clark announced the fund today during a visit to Kamloops, where she met with emergency officials and families impacted by scores of out-of-control fires. Clark says $600 will be made immediately available by electronic transfer through the Red Cross to people who have registered after being forced from their homes. She says the transition team for premier-designate John Horgan’s incoming government has been briefed on the establishment of the fund.

    Horgan said the outgoing government has been very co-operative and that he would honour the $100 million Clark had committed to, adding that the province would likely provide even more support as the cost of the disaster grows. “Whatever is needed to make sure that people are whole after this, we’re going to make sure that happens,” he said, after meeting with officials in Kamloops. Horgan said he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Sunday afternoon, who assured him the federal government stood ready to help. “To have the prime minister say the federal government is there for us when we need it is very reassuring,” he said.


    Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Ottawa has agreed to federal assistance. The Canadian Armed Forces are helping residents affected by evacuations and airlift emergency workers and equipment. Three Canadian Armed Forces Griffon helicopters were expected to arrive in Kelowna on Sunday and some larger fixed-wing aircraft are to arrive over the next few days, said Chris Duffy, executive director of Emergency Management BC. Duffy said the aircraft would be on standby and ready to help wherever they were needed, but that they would not be assisting with fire suppression at this time. The hardest-hit regions are the central and southern Interior. There are also a number of major blazes burning in northern B.C. but they weren’t posing as immediate a threat as the fires further south, said Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service.

    A provincewide state of emergency was declared Friday after about 140 new fires ignited and crews grappled with intense winds. The government said it would allow it to more easily co-ordinate a response to the crisis. Clark said people are worried about their homes, pets and lifelong possessions. “We are just, in many ways, at the beginning of the worst part of the fire season and we watch the weather, we watch the wind, and we pray for rain,” she told reporters in Kamloops. “But our prayers aren’t always answered in these things and so we need to be there to support people in the meantime because there are hundreds and hundreds of people who are scared to death right now.” On Saturday, the winds eased slightly, but 98 new fires sprang up and existing fires grew in size, Skrepnek said.

    MORE
    Last edited by waltky; 07-10-2017 at 01:08 PM.

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    Fire an' flames an' vapors o' smoke...

    Portugal, Corsica fight huge fires
    Mon, Aug 14, 2017 - Firefighters on Saturday managed to contain huge wildfires in Portugal and the French island of Corsica, although hot weather meant the risk of them spreading again remained high.
    ]
    Nearly 1,000 people were evacuated in Corsica overnight, mostly tourists staying at campsites, as 2,000 hectares of scrubland was destroyed, although no casualties were reported. At Cap Corse, the most northerly point of the Mediterranean island where the fire had spread, the blaze was “contained but not controlled,” local authorities said. “It’s hell,” said Christian Burchi, a 50-year-old Sisco resident. “We tried to extinguish the flames with two buckets of water and a ridiculous hose. Everywhere is burning.”


    About 180 firefighters, bolstered by reinforcements from the mainland, were battling the flames aided by three fire-bombing aircraft. French Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb praised the “admirable work” of the hundreds of emergency services. In Portugal, firefighters managed to bring two of the major blazes under control in the center of the country by Saturday afternoon, the civil protection authority announced, while warning that the heatwave could reignite the fires.



    A man fights a forest fire near the village of Cioga do Campo, Portugal, on Saturday


    Firefighters have stopped the spreading of the flames from the forest fire that raged in the region of Abrantes since Wednesday, authorities said.[ However, more than 500 firefighters, nearly 200 vehicles and three water-bombing helicopters remain on standby should the fires flare up again, they added. A record 220 fires had started on Friday alone, civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar said.


    Some residents have voiced anger at authorities after a season of repeated wildfires which have stretched resources. “Firefighters can’t perform miracles, they are exhausted,” Bracal resident Lucia Ricardo said. After an uncommonly dry winter and spring, nearly 79 percent of the Portuguese mainland was enduring extreme or severe drought at the end of last month, the national weather office said.


    Portugal, Corsica fight huge fires - Taipei Times

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    Firefighters contain huge wildfires in Corsica and Portugal
    August 12, 2017 - Firefighters managed to contain huge wildfires in Portugal and the French island of Corsica on Saturday, though hot weather meant the risk of them spreading again remained high.
    Almost 1,000 people were evacuated in Corsica overnight, mostly tourists staying at campsites, as 2,000 hectares (nearly 5,000 acres) of scrubland was destroyed, although no casualties were reported. The evacuees were put up in schools and other temporary shelters. A man suspected of starting five fires in Bastia, a town with a population of 40,000 in northeast Corsica, was arrested and will remain in detention at least through the weekend, officials said. At Cap Corse, the most northerly point of the Mediterranean island where the fire had spread, the blaze was "contained but not controlled", according to the local authorities Saturday. "It's hell," Christian Burchi, a 50-year-old Sisco resident said. "We tried to extinguish the flames with two buckets of water and a ridiculous hose. Everywhere is burning."



    Firemen seek to control a blaze at Pietracorbara on August 11, 2017, on the French island of Corsica


    Around 180 firefighters, bolstered by reinforcements from the mainland, were battling the flames aided by three fire-bombing aircraft. Bernard Weber, a 60-year-old Frenchman on holiday in Corsica, spoke of "huge flames everywhere". "It's a bit scary," said a 36-year-old Czech tourist who gave her name as Monika. She said her relatives would spend the night in a school building in Sisco. France's Interior Minister Gerard Collomb praised the "admirable work" of the hundreds of emergency services workers battling the blazes.


    - Freak dry spells -


    In Portugal firefighters managed to bring two of the major blazes under control in the centre of the country by Saturday afternoon, the civil protection authority announced, while warning that the heatwave could reignite the fires. Firefighters have stopped the spreading of the flames from the forest fire that raged in the region of Abrantes since Wednesday, authorities said. But more than 500 firefighters, nearly 200 vehicles and three water-bombing helicopters remain on standby should the fires flare up again, they added. The other huge fire now under control was at Alvaiazere in the central region of Leiria. Civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar said a record 220 fires had started on Friday alone. "Despite the relentless fires, the situation is now more stable," said Gaspar in Lisbon. Emergency workers had nearly gained control of wildfires across Portugal's drought-hit central region on Thursday, but stronger winds fanned flames in several areas.



    After an uncommonly dry winter and spring, almost 79 percent of the Portuguese mainland was enduring extreme or severe drought at the end of July


    In the village of Bracal, flames were being blown towards houses as residents grabbed what they could to aid firefighters, an AFP journalist said. Some residents voiced anger at authorities after a season of repeated wildfires which have stretched resources. "Firefighters can't perform miracles, they are exhausted," said Lucia Ricardo, who lives in Bracal, close to Abrantes. Six villages had been evacuated around Abrantes on Thursday as fire-dousing planes flew sorties over the flames. The fires come after more than 60 people were killed in June, and more than 200 injured, in a giant blaze at Pedrogao Grande in central Portugal that raged for five days. After an uncommonly dry winter and spring, almost 79 percent of the Portuguese mainland was enduring extreme or severe drought at the end of July, according to the national weather office.


    https://www.yahoo.com/news/huge-wild...004428511.html

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    Wildfire smoke may obscure eclipse...

    Oregon Wildfire Causes Evacuations, Closes Roads in Prime Eclipse Zone
    August 19, 2017 — Residents of more than 400 homes in a prime eclipse-viewing location in Oregon were ordered to evacuate Friday because of a rapidly growing wildfire that had already closed access to a portion of a wilderness area and a regional highway.
    The late afternoon order threatened to create more tie-ups on rural and narrow roads already expected to be burdened with up to 200,000 visitors coming to the area from around the world to watch Monday’s total solar eclipse. About 1 million people are expected in Oregon, where the moon’s shadow first makes landfall in the continental U.S. The nearly 11-square-mile (28-square-kilometer) wildfire in the Deschutes National Forest was about six miles (9 kilometers) west of the town of Sisters, which sits on the southern edge of the 70-mile swath of Oregon where the moon will completely blot out the sun.


    Regional roads closed


    Sisters itself will experience 34 seconds of totality and is a popular tourist destination even without an eclipse brewing, but heavy smoke and the rapidly growing fire have prompted officials to close nearby campsites, recreational areas and roads. So far fire crews have not been able to contain any part of the wildfire and the McKenzie Pass Highway 242 has been closed between Highway 126 and Sisters, said Susie Heisey, a public information officer with Central Oregon Dispatch.



    Wildfire burns in Willamette National Forest, Oregon. Elsewhere in the state wildfires have forced evacuations and closed roads near prime eclipse-viewing locations.



    The closures will likely have a big impact on people traveling through the region for the eclipse, she said, and the risk is high for more conflagrations in the area with so many campers. “There’s absolutely no campfires allowed and no burning allowed. So we’re just hoping that everyone that’s here to enjoy the eclipse” follows the rules, Heisey said. Nearly two dozen other fires are also burning in Oregon, including nine more in the best eclipse-viewing zone. Large portions of the Mount Jefferson Wilderness, in central Oregon’s Willamette National Forest, are also closed.


    Montana and California fires


    Elsewhere, fire officials in Montana ordered additional evacuations Friday night after earlier telling residents of 750 homes to flee a fire that jumped control lines in gusty winds. The 30-square-mile (76 square kilometer) blaze on forest land, southwest of the town of Lolo, was started by lightning in July but blew up late Wednesday.



    Solar Eclipse Oregon


    Two homes burned Friday and several outbuildings burned late Thursday. Evacuations were in effect along the U.S. Highway 93 and U.S. Highway 12 corridors. The town of Florence was under an evacuation warning. In California, crews fighting a fire in Yosemite National Park were trying to guide the flames away from the small town of Wawona and into wilderness. The fire has closed campgrounds and trails in the park but authorities have not ordered anyone to leave. No structures have been damaged.


    https://www.voanews.com/a/oregon-wil...e/3992238.html

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