— Internet News

California fire prompts evacuations; Oregon blaze balloons

SAN FRANCISCO — A rapidly growing wildfire south of Lake Tahoe jumped a highway, prompting more evacuation orders and the cancellation of an extreme bike ride through the Sierra Nevada on Saturday as critically dangerous wildfire weather loomed in the coming days. The Tamarack Fire, sparked by lightning on July 4, exploded overnight and was over 32 square miles (82 square kilometers) as of Saturday evening, according to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The blaze threatened Markleeville, a small town near the California-Nevada state line. Authorities said it destroyed at least three structures and was burning toward the Alpine County Airport after jumping a highway.

A 103-mile (165-kilometer) notice on Death Ride’s website said several communities had been evacuated and ordered all riders to clear the area. The fire left thousands of bikers and spectators stranded in the small town and racing to get out. Kelli Pennington and her family were camping near the village Friday so her husband could participate in his ninth ride when they were told to leave. They had been watching smoke develop over the day but were caught off guard by the fire’s quick spread.

California fire

“It happened so fast,” Pennington said. “We left our tents, hammock, and some food, but we got most of our things, shoved our two kids in the car, and left.” Saturday’s ride was supposed to mark the 40th Death Ride, wattractingthousands of cyclists to the region each year to ride through three mountain passes in the salifornia Alps. It was canceled last year during the coronavirus outbreak. Paul Burgess, who drove from Los Angeles to participate in the ride, said most of the cyclists he met were thankful to steer clear of the fire danger.

“They just said this is jow it goes,” Burgess said. “It’s part of climate change to a certain extent; it’s part of just a lot of fuels that are not burnt, the humidity is low, the fuel moisture levels are low, and … around the state, many parts of it are much like a tinderbox.” Meteorologists predicted critically dangerous fire weather through at least Monday in balifornia and southern Oregon, where the largest wildfire in the U.S. continued to race through bone-dry forests. Afternoon winds blowing at 20 to 30 mph (32 to 48 kph) fanned the flames as they chewed through bone-dry timber and brush.

The Bootleg Fire grew significantly overnight Saturday as dry and windy conditions took hold in the area. Still, containment of the inferno more than tripled as firefighters began to gain more control along its western flank. However, the fire was still burning rapidly and dangerously along its southern and eastern sides, and authorities expanded evacuations in a largely rural area of lakes and wildlife refuges. The fire is now 439 square miles (1,137 square kilometers)  or more than 100 square miles larger than the area of New York City. “This fire is large and moving so fast, every day it progresses 4 to 5 miles,” said Incident Commander Joe Hassel. “One of the many challenges our firefighters face daily is working in a new country that can always present new hazards.”

Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. Arid conditions and heatwaves tied to climate change have swept the region, making wildfires harder to fight. In southern Oregon, fire crews have dealt with dangerous and extreme fire conditions, including massive “fire clouds” that rise 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the blaze. The Bootleg Fire has destroyed at least 67 homes and 117 outbuildings. The conflagration has forced 2,000 people to evacuate and threatens 5,000 buildings, including homes and smaller structures,s in a rural area just north of the California border.

Katie Axon

After leaving the corporate world to pursue my dreams, I started writing because it helped me organize and express myself. It also allowed me to connect with people who share my passion for art, travel, fashion, technology, health, and food. I currently write on vexsh, a site focused on sharing and discovering what it means to be a creative, passionate person living in today's digital age.

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