With another stretch of extreme heat, one of the worst droughts in recent history, 300 fires burning in British Columbia, 24 in California, 14 in Idaho, 13 in Oregon, and four in Washington, it’s safe to say wildfire season is here.
In Washington, the Batterman Road fire near Wenatchee has burned more than 14,000 acres and 12,000 acres have been consumed by the Burbank fire near Yakima, which is 20% contained.
In Canada, 77 of the blazes started over the weekend. British Columbia’s Premier John Horgan says he will lobby Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to use Canada’s military to help clear fire danger zones to prevent future wildfires.
As of Sunday, fire crews in Canada were keeping a close watch on 25 fires that could potentially pose a threat to public safety, fire information officer Taylor Colman told CBC News.
In Oregon, sheriff’s deputies may start arresting people who refuse to heed evacuation orders issued because of a large, growing wildfire that threatens two small towns, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.
The Bootleg fire, currently around 150,000 acres, is racing through heavy timber in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, near the Klamath County town of Sprague River. The fire disrupted service on three transmission lines providing up to 5,500 megawatts of electricity to neighboring California.
Fire managers on Sunday extended a Level 3 evacuation zone to unincorporated Beatty, with a population of around 120 people. Level 3 evacuations mean residents must leave immediately. Deputies continued to circle the area on Sunday to ensure people were contacted, according to a spokesperson for Klamath County Emergency Management.
In California, firefighters are battling several large fires, with officials saying the season is setting up to be more devastating than the record-breaking destruction of last year.
“We’re seeing a large increase in fires on a historical basis compared to where we would be at this time last year,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief Joh Heggie told The Washingon Post. “This is a large indicator that we’re looking at another busy fire season — all the same scenarios that set up last year for such a devastating year have the same potential for this year.”
The largest in California — the Beckwourth Complex — was raging along the Nevada state line and has burned more than 85,000 acres or about 134 square miles. State regulators are asking consumers to “conserve as much electricity as possible” starting Monday afternoon, to avoid outages.
In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little has mobilized the National Guard to help fight fires sparked after lightning storms swept across the drought-stricken region.
Information from The Seattle Times archives and The Associated Press is included in this report.