Firefighters in California and Oregon have made progress battling two large wildfires that have burned around 240,000 acres in an extreme heat wave, officials said Monday.
The Beckwourth Complex, the largest wildfire burning in California, has burned more than 91,200 acres. It was 26 percent contained by Monday evening, up from 8 percent Sunday, fire officials said.
The fire complex was sparked by lightning in Plumas National Forest in Northern California, near the Nevada border, officials said. Around 20 homes were destroyed in the small town of Doyle, the fire department has said.
There were extreme fire conditions, California Incident Management Operations Section Chief Jake Cagle said. The “probability of ignition” is 100 percent, which means any ember or match in a fuel bed will cause a fire, he said.
“That’s the kind of extreme weather conditions we’re dealing with,” Cagle said in a video briefing Monday. “And it’s still early. This is stuff that we expect in August, for the past five, six, seven years — now we’re seeing it earlier in July.”
In southern Oregon, the Bootleg Fire had grown by around 5,000 acres by Monday morning, an improvement over the doubling in size that the fire had seen in recent days.
The fire was estimated at more than 150,800 acres, or around 234 square miles. It is burning in Fremont-Winema National Forest and started Tuesday afternoon. A cause has not been determined.
Fire officials said a smoke inversion allowed firefighters to build and strengthen fire control lines Sunday. The fire has destroyed seven homes, a spokesman for the Oregon fire marshal said.
Much of the Western U.S. has been dealing with extreme heat that has set or matched temperature records.
The heat wave has peaked for most areas, but excessive heat warnings will remain in place through Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service said.
California is coming off what fire officials said was one of the state’s worst years for wildfires. It included four of the five largest wildfires in California history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The state’s fifth-most destructive wildfire, the North Complex, which killed 15 people and destroyed more than 2,300 homes and other structures, also occurred last year.
Oregon also had a wildfire season that the governor said was unlike any other in recent memory. More than 1 million acres burned, more than 5,000 homes and commercial structures were destroyed, and nine people died, a government report released in January said.
The Associated Press contributed.