Published On: Tue, Jul 3rd, 2018

Wind Spreads California Fire As Other States Battle Blazes

A massive wildfire in rural Northern California has exploded in size and forced evacuations in hot, dry weather that is sweeping through several Western states where blazes are threatening thousands of homes.

California Fire

The fast-moving fire that started over the weekend northwest of Sacramento grew dramatically to about 70 square miles (180 square kilometers) by Monday, largely burning out of control in rugged terrain with a few cattle and horse ranches and sending smoke and ash as far south as San Francisco.

The fire that started Saturday about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco spread as strong winds pushed smoke south, dusting cars and homes with a thin layer of gray ash. About 300 people were told to flee their homes, and more than 100 buildings were threatened. No injuries were reported.

The flames were chewing through 1.5 square miles (4 square kilometers) of rugged terrain an hour, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Gabe Lauderbale said.

In Colorado, more than 2,500 homes were under evacuation orders as firefighters battled more than a half-dozen wildfires. Most of the evacuations were tied to a 78-square-mile (202-square-kilometer) wildfire in southern Colorado that led to the arrest of a Danish man on arson charges.

Jesper Joergensen, 52, initially said he had started a fire to burn trash but then said he had been grilling in a permanent fire pit the day before the blaze began, according to a court document.

Joergensen, who reported the wildfire, said it started about 20 feet (6 meters) away from the fire pit Wednesday and he tried to put it out, an arrest affidavit said. It says about 25 buildings had been destroyed as of Thursday, when he was arrested. Authorities have not released other details on damage.

A wildfire burning in hot and dry conditions in Utah has forced the evacuation of about seven to 10 seasonal cabins near a popular fishing reservoir. The homes that are threatened about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southeast of Salt Lake City are not primary residences.

The fire has scorched about 10 square miles (25 square kilometers) near Strawberry Reservoir and officials believe it is human-caused but are investigating, said Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands.