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Firefighters try to outrun heat wave

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POSTED July 10, 2012 9:07 p.m.


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Firefighters on Tuesday scrambled to ward off several blazes burning thousands of acres across California as an anticipated heat wave was expected to peak by midday.

A pair of wildfires several miles apart in Northern California that have scorched nearly 17,000 acres and left two firefighters with heat-related injuries continued to spread. A blaze in Southern California sent smoke over San Bernardino and the triple-digit temperatures left three firefighters with heat-related injuries.

A wildfire in the Mendocino National Forest that has burned some 13,000 acres kept campgrounds closed and a handful of homes under evacuation.

To the south in the mountains above San Bernardino, a fire broke out along Highway 18 in Waterman Canyon on Monday and burned 75 acres. Residents were asked to voluntarily leave for several hours and the highway was shut down for a time.

Three firefighters were taken from the scene with injuries due to the excessive heat as late-afternoon temperatures soared above 100 degrees, but it was not clear how severe their conditions were.

The National Weather Service said temperatures would peak Tuesday and Wednesday. Excessive heat warnings will be in effect most of Tuesday across the deserts, the service said. Forecasters also warned that the heat, combined with low humidity levels, will elevate the fire danger.

Another wildfire near Highway 395 in Inyo County was 100 percent contained after burning 1,103 acres and briefly threatening about 300 homes.

50 percent containment

in Colusa County wildfire

MAXWELL, Calif. (AP) — State fire officials say a large wildfire burning near the farming community of Maxwell in rural Colusa County is slowly being contained.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant on Tuesday says that the fire at the so-called Sites Complex has reached about 50 percent containment after more than doubling in size on Monday.

Berlant says more than 1,300 firefighters continue making progress in surrounding the blaze that originally began as five separate fires. They expect to have the fire under control by the weekend.

Although the fire came close to a few ranches, no structures are currently threatened.

Berlant says while the winds have died down, crews will still have to grapple with triple-digit temperatures, single-digit humidity and very dry conditions.

Wildfire still active

Mendocino National Forest

WILLITS  (AP) — Federal fire officials say a wildfire in the Mendocino National Forest that has already burned about 13,000 acres remains active.

Fire information officer Tamara Schmidt on Tuesday says erratic and gusty afternoon winds, high temperatures, low humidity and overall dry conditions continue to spread the fire which is now 20 percent contained and has so far cost $1.2 million to contain.

Officials have issued an air quality advisory due to smoke in the area as more than 700 firefighters are battling the blaze in rugged terrain near Letts Lake. The flames have already forced the closure of campgrounds and the evacuation of a handful of homes.


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