2 Calif. towns warned of possible evacuations as wildfire grows | VailDaily.com

2 Calif. towns warned of possible evacuations as wildfire grows

ALPINE, Calif. – A 6,600-acre wildfire forced the evacuation of more than a hundred homes in rural San Diego County, and authorities warned Monday that two other communities with a total of 1,350 homes could be next.The fire, burning across more than 10 square miles in Cleveland National Forest, was the latest in a series of blazes around California that have put fire crews to work in temperatures of 100 degrees or more.It prompted deputies to order 125 homes evacuated in the town of Alpine starting Sunday. Residents throughout parts of Pine Valley and Lake Morena, where there are about 1,350 homes combined, were told to remain on standby, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Susan Plese.Monday’s high in the Cleveland forest had been expected to be 105 degrees, officials said.”If you get behind on drinking water, you can’t catch up,” said firefighter Jon Sanchioli, 46. “We had one guy go down yesterday. We know you’ve got to be careful. If you keep on pushing, your body shuts down.”Five firefighters around California suffered heat exhaustion during the weekend.This fire season is on pace to be the worst year for wildfires this decade, the National Interagency Fire Center reported Monday.As of Monday, wildfires had blackened more than 4.9 million acres, over 7,700 square miles, since the first of this year, the center reported. That surpassed the 4.8 million acres charred in 2004 and the 10-year average of 2.7 million acres. The season got a fast start with several weeks of spring grass fires that swept across Texas and Oklahoma.Off the California coast, a blaze charred 700 acres – just over a square mile – of brush on Santa Catalina Island, the 76-square-mile recreation spot southwest of Los Angeles with several hotels and homes. It was 40 percent contained, officials said.In the mountains of central Idaho, high temperatures combined with wind to drive three forest fires. Managers worried that one of the fires could threaten federally protected chinook salmon.Crews in central Arizona kept a 3,900-acre – or 6-square-mile – wildfire in the Tonto National Forest from reaching two power lines that carry electricity to Phoenix.Unlike California, calmer wind and higher humidity helped crews battling a 3-square-mile blaze in western Nevada that had briefly threatened homes east of Carson City and the historic mining town of Virginia City during the weekend. It was 60 percent contained Monday, and full containment was expected by the end of the day, said fire information officer Dave Olson.—On the Net:National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov

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