Wildfire threatens lines that take power to Phoenix
SUNFLOWER, Ariz. – A fire burning in a national forest threatened two transmission lines that send electricity to metropolitan Phoenix, officials said Sunday.Three planes dropped retardant on the fire, which was burning about 5 square miles but wasn’t threatening buildings, said Emily Garber, a spokeswoman for the Tonto National Forest. It was about two miles from the power lines, two of many that bring power into the Phoenix area.Arizona Public Service, one of two major utilities serving the metro area, can use contingency plans to import power into Phoenix if a transmission line is lost, company spokesman Alan Bunnell said.Garber said crews, which included 110 people and a water-dumping helicopter, were optimistic that retardant would keep the 3,500-acre fire from advancing toward the power lines. The fire, which was sparked by lightning Friday afternoon, was not contained.Crews worked to clear away brush between the fire and the community of Sunflower, about five miles north of the fire and 55 miles northeast of downtown Phoenix.Meanwhile, a lightning-sparked wildfire on Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California, had scorched 1,200 acres of brush Sunday, and several blazes continued to burn in the mountains and desert east of Los Angeles.Hundreds of firefighters and at least 20 fire engines were taken to the island on boats and military hovercraft from Camp Pendleton during the night because lightning made helicopters too dangerous, said Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Scott Ross.The fire had covered nearly 2 square miles of the island, which is just 76 square miles. It grew rapidly during the night, going from 60 to 1,200 acres in about two hours, and had threatened some homes, officials said. It was 10 percent contained.Homes were not in danger Sunday, and no evacuation orders were in effect, Ross said.Officials called for the evacuations of about 100 homes in the small community of Carveacre as they battled a blaze that burned 300 acres, or just under half a square mile, of brush-covered hills in the Cleveland National Forest.Firefighters battling a 447-acre blaze that clogged traffic on Interstate 15 north of San Bernardino hoped to have it contained Sunday despite soaring temperatures and low humidity.Crews were also taking on a 700-acre lightning-sparked blaze in the Mojave desert near the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, said Anne Luker, a dispatcher for the San Bernardino National Forest.In Nevada, erratic winds, inaccessible terrain and numerous mine shafts were hampering firefighters in their battle against a 1,500-acre wildfire near the historic mining town of Virginia City.The lightning-caused blaze threatened the community of Mark Twain, fire information officer Mark Struble said. Samuel Clemens assumed his famous pen name while working for a newspaper in Virginia City in 1862.Struble said the fire potentially threatened 200 homes and 50 outbuildings, but nothing was immediately threatened and evacuations were voluntary.The fire was 5 percent contained and shut down Six-mile Canyon Road linking Virginia City and Mark Twain.