Published: Mon, July 30, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Firefighter killed battling massive California wildfires

Firefighter killed battling massive California wildfires

The blaze had burned several homes and threatened hundreds more, forcing the evacuations of Idyllwild, Pine Cove and Fern Valley.

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, said that long-term drying caused by rising global temperatures has exacerbated the risk of wildfires in the western United States. They also warned of possible afternoon wind gusts that could create risky fire conditions.

Yosemite Valley will temporarily shut down beginning this afternoon as firefighters battle heavy smoke and flames from the Ferguson Wildfire near the National Park, officials say.

The blaze in the San Jacinto Mountains erupted Wednesday and quickly turned into a wall of flame that torched timber and tinder-dry brush.

Authorities said it was threatening an estimated 600 homes.

It was not clear if McGlover, who was being held on $1 million bail, had retained an attorney.

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Authorities ordered residents to leave Idyllwild and several neighbouring communities, home to about 12,000 people.

The fire, which broke out in Merced River Canyon on July 13, has raged over more than 57 square miles of the Sierra Nevada region.

"(Park rangers) told us the air quality inside (the center) was just as bad as outside".

No injuries have been reported but several hundred people, as well as animals and children from summer camps, are now staying in shelters.

The fire in the San Bernardino National Forest has no containment. More than 3,400 personnel using 16 helicopters and 59 bulldozers were fighting the conflagration. Crews were able to build additional fire lines to protect nearby communities.

Yosemite National Park reports that Yosemite Valley, Wawona and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia's remains closed. The glacial valley's grand vista of waterfalls and shear granite faces has been obscured by a choking haze of smoke from the Ferguson Fire.

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"We had one guest who planned a weeklong trip", Lambert said. "It was a father-daughter trip, for her high school graduation ... Now it's done. It's sad". By the way if you were planning to climb Half Dome this week, of course forget it. Permits are canceled until further notice, as is the daily lottery for permits to hike up the big rock.

Officials emphasised that Yosemite was not in imminent danger from the fire.

Spokesman Scott Gediman says the valley - the heart of the visitor experience at the park - along with a windy, mountainous, 20-mile (32-kilometer) stretch of State Route 41 that is part of Yosemite is expected to stay closed through Sunday.

"This is the first time Yosemite Valley has been closed due to a wildfire since 1990".

The Ferguson fire has raged for almost two weeks, burning through over 57 square miles (148 square kilometers) of woods in the Sierra Nevada just west of the park. It was just 5 percent contained, Cal Fire officials said.

The wildfires have dispatched firefighters to all corners of the state amid an oppressive heat wave. On July 14, a firefighter was killed while six others have been reported as injured since the blaze began.

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