Heat wave and wildfires rage in western US
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.