Western States Blazing Away in Summer Wildfires

August 3, 2000

Thirty-five major wildfires are blazing across the Western states in the dry months of late summer, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The fires are currently being tackled by 20,000 firefighters, and the resulting parched land adds up to more than 638,000 acres in California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

The volatile weather is not helping matters any. Thunderstorms in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on Aug. 1 were accompanied by bolts of lightning that set off new fires in the area. In the Sequoia National Forest, where California’s largest blaze covers 67,000 acres, steep altitudes made fire-fighting especially difficult.

In San Diego County, 1,000 firefighters used bulldozers to battle a 3,800-acre blaze on the Pechanga Indian Reservation. A spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service said the fire should be under control by next week, although they face challenges from 100+ degree temperatures, strong winds, rugged terrain and dry chapparal that had not burned in 100 years.

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