Firefighters gain ground on scattered wildfires
July 7, 1996
Web posted at: 11:30 a.m. EDT
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Fire crews Sunday were winning most of the battles they've been fighting since midweek in the western United States, where a dry climate and unseasonably high temperatures have helped fuel raging wildfires in six states.
The largest blaze is near Twin Falls, Idaho, where flames raced across 50,000 acres in just a few hours.
"It is very scary," said Weitski Lightenberg, a resident of the area. "You don't realize how fast the fire can come and just overtake everything."
In Nevada, firefighters Sunday were surrounding a fire that's burned 3,000 acres new Carson City. Because the land is so rugged, airplanes were being used to carry firefighters near the site, after which they must hike several miles to reach the fireline.
"It's a tough one," said Mike Dondero of the U.S. Forest Service. "I want to make sure we get them in there safe because the winds are very erratic around here."
As of Tuesday, all campfires in Nevada will be restricted to paid, developed campgrounds.
Near Santa Barbara and San Diego, California, firefighters managed to surround two wildfires before either reached homes. Fire crews were also struggling against big blazes in Arizona and Wyoming.
In all, it has been unusually busy this early in the fire season -- especially in California. And the hot, dry Santa Ana winds which often fan fires are still a few months to come.
"It's a bad sign," said Robert Martines of the California Department of Forestry. "We are very worried because the conditions that we are experiencing right now are conditions that we probably should experience in October or early November. So when we have the wind in the fall this year, this could be a very disastrous fire season." (288K AIFF or WAV sound)
A spokesman for the U.S. Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service said it is too soon to tell if the $621 million Congress recently allocated to pay for additional firefighters will be enough to deal this season's fires.
- Western wildfires: Some almost out but new ones ignite - July 5, 1996
- Firefighters declare victory over S. California wildfires - July 4, 1996
- Day 5 for California wildfire- July 3, 1996
- Rain, snow douse much of Nevada wildfire - June 25, 1996
- Wildfires scorch Western states- June 24, 1996
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