Firefighters across the Western states have battled wildfires that have destroyed more than 73,000 acres. Citizens have been evacuated immediately in areas threatened by the Lake Fire in California’s Los Angeles County, the Mosier Creek Fire in central Oregon, and the Pine Gulch and Grizzly Creek fire in Colorado.
On Wednesday, August 12, 2020, an afternoon brush fire in a rural part of Los Angeles County spread swiftly and burned down 10,000 acres and sent up a big plume of smoke that could be seen from city beaches 65 miles away.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said that there are about 100 homes needed to be evacuated. The Red Cross Los Angeles added that they have organized a temporary evacuation point which is a high school wherein residents would have to stay in their parked cars.
By 7:15 p.m., flames have already jumped Pine Canyon Road, two miles west of Lake Hughes Road, and shortly after, flames were seen on aerial footage burning homes in the area. With this, the California Highway Patrol set up road closures throughout the area.
Fire officials have reported that on Thursday morning, a day after it was reported, it was 0% contained. There were no reports of injuries.
In neighboring Oregon, the Mosier Creek Fire has also caused people to evacuate on Wednesday night. Several large air tankers were en route to help control the blaze, which by Thursday had consumed about 500 acres, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown directly invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act, saying 300 homes were threatened by the fire. She also said that the Oregon fire marshal will take command of the fire at 8 a.m.
The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office said power outages were affecting more than 4,000 customers in Hood River County Wednesday afternoon, starting around the time the fire began. Crews restored power to most customers late Wednesday night. Pacific Power has begun investigating the cause.
In Colorado, the Pine Gulch Fire had consumed more than 58,000 acres by Thursday morning, with only 7% containment, fire officials reported.
Then, less than 100 miles away, the Grizzly Creek Fire had destroyed more than 4,600 acres by Thursday, according to the US Forest Service. The fire, which ignited Monday, crossed the Colorado River and Interstate 70 on Wednesday, making the interstate to shut down east of Glenwood Springs.
White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said on Wednesday during a community briefing, “This fire is in a really tough spot, and it’s really tough to fight.” He added that it may take them a while to completely fight it.
CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said that cloud cover and higher humidity are expected Thursday, which could help contain the fire. Friday’s forecast will be hotter and drier, posing more of a risk. Those conditions will likely last well into next week.
Guy added that Colorado is heating up as well, with high temperatures for the next seven days. A chance of daily rain in the region could bring some relief and help to the existing wildfire, but with it comes the risk of new fires caused by lightning.