Heat wave and wildfires rage in western US

  • A burned out truck rests on a roadside after the Erskine Fire burned through Weldon, Calif., June 26, 2016.
  • Firefighter Robert Aikman extinguishes a hot spot at a residence leveled by the Erskine Fire in South Lake, Calif., June 26, 2016.
  • Terralyn Lehman recalls fleeing the Erskine Fire as she sits outside an evacuation center at Kernville Elementary School in Kernville, Calif., June 26, 2016. Lehman, whose South Lake home burned Thursday, said the sound of an exploding propane tank woke her and her mom as the flames reached their back fence.
  • A pickup truck passes by the remains of mobile homes devastated by a wildfire, June 25, 2016, in South Lake, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, freeing up money and resources to fight the fire and to clean up in the aftermath. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also authorized the use of funds for firefighting efforts.
  • A resident gestures towards a burning home as the Erskine Fire burns near Weldon, Calif., June 24, 2016.
  • A firefighter sprays a smoldering home as the Erskine Fire burns near Weldon, Calif., June 24, 2016.
  • Burned rubble is all that remains of the residence where two elderly residents were killed trying to escape the Erskine Fire on McCray Road June 25, 2016 in Squirrel Mountain Valley, Calif.
  • Firefighters from Cal Fire’s Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit pay close attention to the wildfire coming at every direction in Kelso Valley as the wildfire progresses east with the winds, near Lake Isabella, Calif., on June 24, 2016.
  • Embers burn on the mountain as firefighters continue to battle a wildfire in the area Friday, June 24, 2016, near Lake Isabella, Calif. The vast and voracious wildfire that has burned at least 80 homes in central California killed an elderly couple as they tried to flee, authorities said.
  • Black Eagles fire crew, from Porterville, perform a firing operation in Lake Isabella, Calif., on June 24, 2016.
  • Firemen work to contain the 6,000 acre Border Fire in eastern San Diego County, Calif., June 21, 2016.
  • A firefighting helicopter prepares to make a water drop on a wildfire in Duarte, Calif., June 21, 2016. Firefighters worked to make gains against Southern California wildfires as an intense heat wave eased slightly Tuesday, but officials warned nearby communities to stay alert and obey any evacuation orders. 
  • With firehose in hand, a fireman works to contain the 6,000 acre Border Fire in eastern San Diego County, Calif., June 21, 2016.
  • Firemen work to contain the 6,000 acre Border Fire in eastern San Diego County, Calif., June 21, 2016.
  • Smoke from wildfires burning in Angeles National Forest fills the sky behind the Los Angeles skyline on June 20, 2016. The wildfires several miles apart devoured hundreds of acres of brush on steep slopes above foothill suburbs erupted in Southern California as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region with triple-digit temperatures.
  • A firefighting plane makes a retardant drop on a hill near a wildfire in Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016.
  • A large plume of smoke from a wildfire rises above a hillside just north of Azusa, Calif., June 20, 2016.
  • Vegetation burns June 20, 2016 in Duarte, as twin fires which have already scorched more than 3,500 acres and forced evacuations continue to burn with zero percent containment in the San Gabriel Valley, northeast of Los Angeles, Calif.
  • A firefighter douses the grass with water along a hillside on a wildfire in Duarte, Calif., June 20, 2016. Police in the city of Azusa and parts of Duarte ordered hundreds of homes evacuated. Others were under voluntary evacuations.
  • A fire whirl, or fire tornado, rises from advancing flames in the early morning hours of June 18, 2016 at the Sherpa Fire near Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Members of the elite Dalton Hotshots crew hike back to their truck at the end of a shift, June 18, 2016 at the Sherpa Fire near Santa Barbara, Calif. The so-called Sherpa fire in the Los Padres National Forest is raging full speed, fanned by strong winds, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency and intermittently shut highways. The fire is the tourist region’s largest since 2009, a Santa Barbara spokeswoman said. 
  • A firefighting BAe-146s jet drops fire retardant, June 18, 2016 at the Sherpa Fire near Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Embers fly around a firefighter with a hose, June 17, 2016 at the Sherpa Fire near Santa Barbara, Calif. A fire in the Los Padres National Forest had expanded to two square miles (five square kilometers) by Thursday, making it the “largest since 2009” in the area, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Information Center told AFP.
  • Firefighters stand in a freshly scorched landscape, June 17, 2016 at the Sherpa Fire near Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Firefighters try to control the blaze as they prevent the wildfire from burning through El Capitan Canyon camp and its structures, on June 16, 2016 in Goleta, Calif.

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Wildfires have raged through California, Arizona, and New Mexico during the past two weeks, as firefighters struggled to contain multiple blazes amid a searing heat wave.

By Sunday morning, only one fire, in Kern County, north of Los Angles, continued to burn and was reportedly 40 percent under control. It had killed two people, destroyed 200 structures, and had consumed 43,360 acres as of that time. Authorities Sunday said that “additional fatalities are possible” and that 2,500 home were under threat.

Two wildfires that developed last week in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles were particularly concerning and prompted the evacuation of over 800 residents. A fatal car accident caused the first fire, according to the California Highway Patrol.  

Blazes in other regions have also taken a significant toll. Wildfire near the Mexican border forced hundreds of residents to leave their homes, NBC San Diego reported. Additionally, a 28-square-mile fire near Albuquerque demolished 24 homes, while a fire on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in eastern Arizona reached 56 square miles on Tuesday.

In addition to the emergency crews that battled flames, about 9 million people were placed under heat alerts in the Southwest and West last week. The hottest temperature in the country last Monday registered at 126 degrees in Death Valley, California. In the neighboring state of Arizona, some Phoenix residents observed on social media that they could have fried eggs on the pavement with the city’s 115 degree temperature.

The heat and dry weather continues to be a concern.

“It really shows how critical this heat can be and how it can really sneak up on you,” a Phoenix Fire spokesman told The Arizona Republic.

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