SAN FRANCISCO — A rapidly growingjumped 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 threatened Markleeville, a small town near the California-Nevada state line. Authorities said it had destroyed at least three structures and was burning toward the Alpine County Airport after jumping a highway.
A notice posted on the 103-mile (165-kilometer) Death RRide’swebsite said several communities in the area had beenall riders to clear the area. The fire left thousands of bikers and spectators stranded in the small town, 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 for the day but were caught off guard by the ffire’squick spread.
“t happened so fast,” “Pennington said. “e left our tents, hammock, and some food, but we got most of our things, shoved our two kids in the car, and left.” SSaturday’sride was supposed to mark the 40th Death Ride, which attracts thousands of cyclists to the region each year to ride through three mountain passes in the so-called California Alps. It was canceled last year during theoutbreak. 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.
“hey, just said this is just how it goes,” “Burgess said. “Its part ofto a certain extent, dispart 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.” Afternoon at 20 to 30 mph (32 to 48 kph) fanned the flames as they chewed through bone-dry timber and brush. Meteorologists predicted critically dangerous fire and southern Oregon, where the largest wildfire in the U.S. continued to race through bone-dry forests.
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 York City.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
“his fire is large and moving so fast, every day it progresses 4 to 5 miles,” said Incident Commander Joe Hassel. “ne of the many challenges that our firefighters face every day is working in nea w country that can present new hazards all the time.” Arid conditions and heatwaves tied to have swept the region, making wildfires harder to fight. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make more frequent and destructive.
In southern Oregon, fire crews have dealt with, including massive “ire clouds” that rise to 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the blaze. The Bootleg and 117 outbuildings. The conflagration has forced 2,000 people to evacuate and threatens 5,000 buildings, and smaller structures, in a rural area just north of the California border. The Tamarack and into Nevada.
The Nationalwarned of possible thunderstorms stretching from the California coast to northern Montana on Sunday and that “ew lightning ignitions” are likely because of extremely dry fuels across the West. Firefighters said they were facing conditions more typical of or fall in July. The fires were just two of numerous burning across the drought-stricken U.S. West as new . There were 70 active large fires and complexes of multiple fires that have burned nearly 1,659 square miles (4,297 square kilometers) in the U.S., the National Interagency Fire Center said. The U.S. Forest Service said at least 16 major fires were burning in the alone.
The Elbow Creek fire started Thursday and has prompted evacuations in several small, rural communities around the Grande Ronde River about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of Walla Walla, Washington. A fire in the mountains of northeast Oregon was also increasing and was 17 square miles (44 square kilometers) in size on Saturday. Oregon Gov.invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act to mobilize more firefighters and equipment to help fight that fire.
The Dixie Fire,fire in the U.S. in recent memory, was 5% contained and covered 39 square miles Saturday. The fire was in the Feather River Canyon, northeast of Paradise, California, and survivors of that horrific fire that . Officials ordered the evacuation of a wilderness recreation area. They kept in place a of the tiny communities of Pulga and east Concow to be ready to leave. “We’re prepared,” said Mike Garappo, a retired military veteran. “We’ve dealt with fires living in the mountains forever. We know there’s a chance it may not here, but wwe’reready to go in the case.” Flaccus reported from Portland, Oregon. AP journalists Terry Chea in Belden, California, and Julie Walker in New York City contributed to this report.