Archive for Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Call goes out for more firefighters

August 15, 2001


— Dozens of wildfires across the West stretched firefighting resources Tuesday as more than 8,500 firefighters were battling blazes in parts of California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

A 4,300-acre wildfire was burning within 3 miles of Monument, a small eastern Oregon town. Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a "state of conflagration" Tuesday, meaning any agencies that sent firefighters and gear to fight the fire would be reimbursed by the state. Monument, about 270 miles east of Portland, has a population of about 150.

Nearly 75,000 acres were burning in Oregon, battled by about 3,800 firefighters, helicopters and aerial tankers at a cost of about $1 million per day.

"They're trying to pinch it down gradually as it moves through very dry forests," said Tom Berglund, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Still, said Berglund, "you've got 105 degree temperatures and dry fuels it's an explosive situation."

Four separate fires were burning throughout Northern California.

More than 850 firefighters and support personnel fought a range fire near Ravendale, Calif., near the Nevada border that had grown to 62,900 acres and was 55 percent contained as of Tuesday, fire officials said.

Thirteen ranch homes were threatened by the fire as well as a major power transmission line that provides power to the Reno area.

More than 1,600 firefighters were battling a 27,800-acre wildfire about 13 miles east of the California town of Likely. That blaze was 10 percent contained Tuesday.

In California's Mendocino National Forest, a 13,000-acre fire that had destroyed 10 homes was 52 percent contained as of Tuesday.

In Nevada, more than 205,000 acres have burned since late last week, most of it grassland. A pall of smoke obscured the mountains Tuesday north of Interstate 80 along a 50-mile stretch between Battle Mountain and Winnemucca.

"This seems to be ground zero right now for wildfires," said Mark Struble, Nevada Bureau of Land Management spokesman.

Crews in northern Nevada claimed victory over an 82,000-acre fire about 25 miles north of Battle Mountain on Tuesday and turned their attention toward the nearby Coyote fire, which was 10 percent contained at 7,200 acres.

In Washington state, dozens of homes and cabins were threatened by wildfires burning across nearly 13,000 acres of grass, sagebrush and timber from the Cascade Range east to the Idaho border.

The largest blaze, the Virginia Lake fire on the Colville Indian Reservation, had burned 7,700 acres, destroyed six homes and threatened another 30, said Nick Mickel, a spokesman for the agencies fighting the fire.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.