27 Large Wildfires Burn 180,000 Acres – and Counting – Across the Western United States

27 large wildfires are burning across the West

More than 8,400 firefighters across the West battled dozens of wildfires Thursday that forced thousands of local residents to pack up families, pets and personal treasures to flee the advancing blazes.

Twenty-seven large fires were burning nearly 180,000 acres, the National Interagency Fire Center reported, as the region continued to pay a steep price for a recent, record-smashing heat wave that combined with low humidity and wind to create a perfect storm for wildfires.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson warned that hot and dry weather through the weekend will only exacerbate wildfire danger.

“The only relief Mother Nature will offer will be at night when winds diminish and the relative humidity rises slightly,” he said.

More than 4,200 square miles have burned so far this year, almost the size of Connecticut. The number represents an alarming 30% more than 2016’s total year-to-date, and 2016 was an above-average year.

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National Interagency Fire center spokeswoman Robyn Broyles blamed the big burn numbers on a very active spring fire season in the Southern Plains followed by the heat, wind and lightning the Southwest has experienced.

In Arizona, the Goodwin Fire about 100 miles north of Phoenix was one of six large fires burning across the state. Dewey-Humboldt resident Terry Thompson squeezed five people, four dogs and two cats into a 2005 Jeep Liberty not long after his wife, Angie, picked up the phone to hear the recorded evacuation notice.

Like hundreds of others displaced or left on edge by the 21,000-acre wildfire, the Thompsons had to keep ahead of the blaze, which was listed as just 1% contained early Thursday.

“I’m still in shock,” Terry Thompson said. Angie Thompson grabbed some keepsakes on their way out the door: “photos, photo albums, our safe. Oh, and baby shoes. Bronze baby shoes.”

Authorities lifted the evacuation order Thursday for the 1,400 residents of Thayer, but thousands in other communities remained out of their homes. The Information Center for the Goodwin Fire warned that for the next couple days the fire had a “high spread potential … with southwest winds of 15-20 mph and gusts up to 30.”

Gov. Doug Ducey, who declared a state of emergency, visited the scene and met with responders Thursday.

The fire follows more than a week of record-setting high temperatures across much of the West. Phoenix set a string of daily records last week and reached 119 degrees one day. Temps have eased, but summer remains summer — this week’s daily highs have been a more seasonal 108 degrees.

The nation’s largest fire, the Brian Head Fire, has been burning for almost two weeks in southwestern Utah, 250 miles south of Salt Lake City. The fire had consumed more than 50,000 acres early Thursday and was 10% contained.

There was good news for some locals when the town manager in Brian Head announced that an evacuation order was scheduled to be lifted Friday — just in time for a holiday weekend celebration that won’t include fireworks.

Some area communities won’t be so lucky, but Brian Head Town Manager Bret Howser said power was restored and Internet and phone repairs were expected to be completed sometime Friday.

“We invite everybody to come share in our Independence Day celebrations, thank the brave firefighters, help our local businesses recover and see how beautiful Brian Head still is!” Howser said in a Facebook post.

The news was also brighter near Burbank, Calif., where scores of homes were ordered evacuated Wednesday ahead of a small but fierce wildfire. Firefighters quickly gained control of the blaze, and the evacuation order was lifted hours later.

Contributing: Scott Craven and Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic

Story by John Bacon,USA TODAY,June 29, 2017
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About Mike Neuman

Identical twin; Long-time advocate of protection of our environment; Married; Father to three sons; Grandfather to one granddaughter; Born and raised in Wisconsin; Graduate of University of Wisconsin; post graduate degrees in agricultural economics and Water Resources Management fro UWMadison; Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work for 31 years with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Retired from DNR in 2007; Biked to school crossing guard site 2 X daily for 7 years retiring in 2019; in addition to being an advocate of safeguarding our environment, I am also an advocate for humane treatment of animal, children, and people in need of financial resource for humane living. I am presently a Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin. I oppose all long (>500 miles) distance travel (via fossil fuel burning) for nonessential purposes and all ownership of more than one home. I am opposed to militarism in any form particularly for the purpose of monetary gain. I am a Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; especially against those in authority who are not acting for the public good?in a timely fashion and in all countries of the world not just the U S.. My identical twin, Pat, died in June 2009. He was fired from his job with the National Weather Service despite having a long and successful career as a flood forecaster with the Kansas City National Weather Service. He took a new position in the Midwest Regional Office in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, Pat’s work for the NWS went sour after he began to see the evidence for concern about rising global temperatures shortly after relocating to Minneapolis, and how they appeared to effect of flooding on the Red River that flows out of Canada before entering the U.S. in North Dakota. . Pat and I conversed on a regular basis with other scientists on the Yahoo Group named “Climate Concern “ and by personal email. The NWS denied his recommendation to give his public presentation o n his research at the “Minneapolis Mall of America” in February 2000, which deeply affected h,im. I will h He strongly believed the information ought be shared with the public to which I concurred. That was the beginning of the vendetta against my brother, Patrick J. Neuman, for speaking strongly of the obligations the federal government was responsible for accurately informing the citizenry. A way great similar response to my raising the issue of too many greenhouse gases being emitted by drivers of vehicles on Wisconsin highway system, my immediate supervisors directed: “that neither global warming, climate change nor the long term impacts upon the natural resources of Wisconsin from expansion of the state highway system were to be any part of my job requirements, and that I must not communicate, nor in a memorandum to all the bureau, shall any person who works in the same bureau I do communicate with me, neither verbally on the phone, by email.

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